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Retailers Struggle To Boost Sales

If you hit the malls this weekend you saw that desperate retailers were slashing prices in an effort to move inventory and push shoppers to open their wallets ... but will it be enough to turn business around?

Shoppers were taking advantage of deep discounts as stores cut prices up to 75 percent in some places, reports CBS News correspondent Bianca Solorzano.

But there were no Christmas miracles this weekend for the struggling retail industry.

"There really wasn't anything that could have turned the season around here in the last couple or three days," said Frederick Crawford, CEO of AlixPartners, a global business advisory firm.

With a shaky economy, many consumers were forced to cut back.

Retail sales through Christmas Eve came in worse than expected -- down as much as 8 percent compared to last year, according to SpendingPulse.

And there was more bad news for retailers. Many shoppers were at the mall to bring back their presents. America's Research Group predicts that the number of people returning and exchanging gifts will be up 40 percent over last year.

"For those consumers that need the cash over the gift, they'll return it and keep the cash," Crawford said. "And unfortunately in many households that's, that's an important consideration for them this year because cash is so tight."

Official holiday sales numbers will be out next week. In the meantime, shoppers can expect the discounts to continue into 2009 -- until new merchandise comes to stores in February.

Early Show Saturday co-anchor Chris Wragge spoke to Dana Telsey, CEO and chief retail analyst at the Telsey Advisory Group, about the difficulties retailers are facing as the year draws to a close. To view, click the Play button below.
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