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Sales galore welcome the storm-weary

If you're a bargain hunter, this is a good time to go shopping.

Among discount deals you'll be able to find this week: Half off the clearance merchandise at Dillard's and 0 percent financing for six years on new cars at Ford and General Motors dealers.

Many retailers are planning aggressive campaigns to unload excess inventory. The past six weeks have been a retailers' nightmare with four hurricanes striking the state, forcing store closings and distracting customers. Lost sales have cost retailers millions of dollars and now they have to get rid of the merchandise.

"You can't stop the future deliveries just because you didn't sell the August and September goods," said Conrad Syzmanski, president of Beall's Department Stores.

Dillard's is offering the deepest discounts it has had on an end-of-the season sale, said Robin Sanderford, southeast regional director. "We have 50 percent off all our clearance through Sunday and we've never done that before."

He said the department store chain is taking many early markdowns on fall merchandise.

"We've got to help the customer to help ourselves," he said. "We're just trying to get our stores in order and get our cities back on their feet."

Car manufacturers are eager to make room for the new models and attempting to attract buyers with incentives, including cash back and 0 percent interest offers.

"They're not going to sell new cars unless we do something about the inventory," said Al Leo, president of Scott Buick and Scott Saab in St. Petersburg.

Although the 0 percent financing deal officially ends Thursday, Leo said he expects another set of incentives after that.

Leo said General Motors also is offering an extra $750 off the purchase price for hurricane victims who have proof of insurance claims of $1,500 or more.

Bargain hunters looking for other deals can check newspaper ads or go straight to the clearance racks.

Helen Huntley can be reached at huntleysptimes.com or (727) 893-8230.

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