Wed, Dec 28, 2011 - Page 10 News List

US stores hope for brisk Monday sales

RETAIL THERAPY:With four in 10 Americans planning to hit the shops in the days after Christmas, holiday-season sales are expected to reach a record US$469.1 billion


A woman rearranges her shopping bags on 34th Street in New York City on Monday.

Photo: AFP

Shoppers found a mixed bag of bargains and so-so deals on Monday, as a day off for many Americans lured some out for what was likely to be the third-busiest shopping day of the holiday season.

Chains were also hoping that shoppers coming in to redeem the millions of gift cards given as presents might be willing to spend a bit more cash of their own.

Many retailers were still relying on bargains to entice shoppers on the day after Christmas.

Last year, chains rang up about US$62 billion in sales during the final week of the year, about 12 percent of the total for the holiday season, despite some major snowstorms.

“This year we’ll blow through that, with about [US]$72 billion in sales for this retail ‘second season,’” Customer Growth Partners president Craig Johnson said.

Retailers could sell as much as US$29 billion worth of merchandise on Monday alone, eclipsing the US$27 billion in sales on Black Friday, Johnson said on Monday morning, as he saw parking lots at suburban malls and outlet malls filling up.

The National Retail Federation expects holiday season sales to rise 3.8 percent to a record US$469.1 billion, slower than last year’s growth, but stronger than its preseason forecast.

This year marked the first time in six years that the day after Christmas fell on a Monday. Some dubbed it “Mega Monday” as the day takes on more prominence for shoppers, especially those who have the day off.

Shoppers who made their way to Saks Fifth Avenue in Boston’s Prudential Center mall said the 60 percent and 70 percent discounts were well worth fighting the crowds.

“It was a stampede at 8am,” said Sarah Klein, 46, a teacher from Cambridge, who said people were grabbing fistfuls of discount handbags when the doors opened.

Four in 10 Americans plan on hitting stores over the next few days, while 46 percent have no plans to shop, according to a poll from Consumer Reports. Of those who said they planned to shop, 82 percent said the biggest draw was post-holiday sales, 47 percent wanted to redeem gift cards and 31 percent expected to return gifts.

This year, Dec. 26 is expected to be the third-busiest sales day, trailing Black Friday and Friday, Dec. 23, according to ShopperTrak, which measures retail and mall foot traffic.

As procrastinators finished shopping in the days just before Christmas, Dec. 23 overtook Dec. 17 as the second-busiest day so far, ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin said.

ShopperTrak predicted that up to 60 percent more shoppers would visit stores on Dec. 26 than on the same day last year.

Another Consumer Reports poll found that 113 million Americans received gift cards last holiday season and that 62 percent of adults planned to give them as gifts this year.

Retailers hope that people redeeming gift cards will buy merchandise at full price and spend more than the value of the cards they are using.

“The best and the smartest retailers do put together promotions and merchandising in such a way to convince the consumer to spend more than what their gift card was,” said John Squire of IBM’s Smarter Commerce initiative.

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