Make us your home page
Instagram

Last-minute shoppers should see big discounts this weekend

Last-minute shoppers may benefit from deep discounts in the final days leading up to Christmas, as retailers try to salvage a season that has been disappointing.

Associated Press

Last-minute shoppers may benefit from deep discounts in the final days leading up to Christmas, as retailers try to salvage a season that has been disappointing.

NEW YORK — When it comes to fat holiday discounts, better late than never.

This holiday shopping season, many stores haven't been offering the same blockbuster deals as they did last year. Instead, they've dangled offers of free shipping and no-fee layaways to lure shoppers.

But during the final weekend before Christmas, shoppers should expect to see more "70 percent off" and "buy one, get one free" signs as stores try to salvage a season that, so far, has been disappointing.

Teen retailer Aeropostale has slashed prices on everything in its stores by 60 percent. Rival teen chain American Eagle Outfitters is offering 40 percent off all purchases. Saks Fifth Avenue is cutting prices on some designer clothing up to 60 percent. And Children's Place, a children's clothing chain, is offering up to 75 percent off on its website.

The price slashing may be good news for shoppers, but it hurts stores. Their profits likely will suffer in their last-ditch effort to boost sales during the two-month holiday shopping period, a time when they can make up to 40 percent of their annual revenue.

To be sure, stores have been offering discounts throughout the season, but they resisted the blockbuster deals that ate away at profits last year. In fact, promotions and other discounting efforts were down 5 percent through Dec. 10 compared to last year, according to BMO Capital Markets, which tracks promotions at about two-thirds of mall stores. But sales have been slow, so stores will have to rely even more on the final days before Christmas to make up the difference.

ShopperTrak, which counts foot traffic and its own proprietary sales numbers from 40,000 retail outlets across the country, said Wednesday that the number of shoppers in stores for the week that ended Saturday fell 4.4 percent from the year-ago period, while sales declined 4.3 percent. As a result, the company said it would slash its sales forecast to a 2.5 percent increase, down from the 3.3 percent growth it had initially predicted.

And online sales, which have been seen as a beacon during the season, have been below expectations, too. Online sales are up 13 percent, to $35 billion, from Nov. 1 through Dec. 16, according to comScore, an online research firm. That pace is below the forecast of 17 percent for the season.

"It feels like the steam is out of the holiday since Black Friday," said Bill Martin, ShopperTrak's co-founder.

Wal-Mart CEO Mike Duke said during a speech in New York City last week that a recent poll of shoppers of the world's largest retailer found an overwhelming majority are aware of the threat of higher taxes that will come if a budget deal isn't worked out in Washington, which is leading some to cut back on holiday buying.

Still, time is on stores' side. Six of the top 10 spending days for the holiday season are still ahead, including the Saturday before Christmas, which is expected to be the second-biggest shopping day of the year. And last year, the final 10 days before Christmas generated nearly 24 percent of the holiday sales, according to MasterCard Advisors' SpendingPulse, which tracks spending across all payments including cash.

Last-minute shoppers should see big discounts this weekend 12/19/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 19, 2012 8:57pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Amazon expands in Tampa with Pop-Up shop in International Plaza

    Retail

    TAMPA — A new retailer known largely for its online presence has popped up at International Plaza and Bay Street.

    Shoppers walk past the new Amazon kiosk Tuesday at the International Plaza in Tampa. The kiosk, which opened last month, offers shoppers an opportunity to touch and play with some of the products that Amazon offers.
[CHRIS URSO   |   Times]

  2. Study: Florida has fourth-most competitive tax code

    Banking

    Florida's tax code is the fourth most competitive in the country, according to a study released Tuesday by nonprofit group Tax Foundation.

    Florida has the fourth-most competitive tax code, a study by the Tax Foundation said. Pictured is  Riley Holmes, III, H&R Block tax specialist, helping a client with their tax return in April. | [SCOTT KEELER, Times]
  3. Trigaux: On new Forbes 400 list of U.S. billionaires, 35 now call Florida their home

    Personal Finance

    The latest Forbes 400 richest people in America was unveiled Tuesday, with 35 billionaires on that list calling Florida home. That's actually down from 40 Florida billionaires listed last year when a full 10 percent listed declared they were Floridians by residence.

    Edward DeBartolo, Jr., shopping center developer and  former San Francisco 49ers Owner, posed with his bronze bust last year during the NFL Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony in Canton, Ohio. DeBartolo remains the wealthiest person in Tampa Bay according to the Forbes 400 list released Tuesday. 
[Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images]
  4. Clearwater attorney accused of condo foreclosure trickery fights back

    Real Estate

    The Clearwater lawyer accused of tricking a bidder into paying $458,100 for a gulf-front condo now plans to contest a judge's order tossing out the sale.

    John Houde, left, looks in the direction of Clearwater lawyer and real estate investor Roy C. Skelton, foreground, in August during a hearing Sixth Judicial Circuit court Judge Jack St. Arnold at the Pinellas County Courthouse. The judge agreed with Houde's allegation that he was duped by Skelton in thinking he bought a Redington Beach condo for $458,100 out of a foreclosure auction. Now Skelton is fighting back. 
[DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  5. How a group of Florida tomato growers could help derail NAFTA

    Agriculture

    Tony DiMare, a third-generation Florida tomato grower, has spent two decades contending with cheap Mexican imports, watching his neighbors abandon crops in their fields and sell off their farms when they couldn't match the price of incoming produce.

    Workers fill a trailer with tomatoes as they harvest them in the fields of DiMare Farms in Florida City. [Joe Raedle | Getty Images(2013)]