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Shoppers Flock To Stores For Post-Christmas Bargains

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- The gifts have all been opened and many people spent the day Wednesday at the malls returning those unwanted gifts from Santa.

Some of the holiday losers this year seemed to be clothes and accessories, as CBS 2's Carolyn Gusoff found out at Roosevelt Field Mall.

"I got an ugly watch and I don't even wear watches...unbelievable, right?" one shopper braving the mall said.

"I got a sweater. It's not my worst gift, but they could step it up a little," another shopper told Gusoff.

"The worst gift I got was probably a really ugly sweater," said another mall goer.

"This little travel thing - like a manicure thing. I didn't need it, I get manicures every week," one disappointed woman added.

As for the best gifts of the year, some kids told Gusoff Apple products are always welcome.

"I got an iPad Mini," one happy child told CBS 2's Gusoff.

Shoppers on gift return lines said the best gifts for Christmas either come from really knowing your recipients or dropping good hints.

"When I went under the Christmas tree and opened my last gift, it was the boots that I wanted and I was so happy!" a woman told Gusoff.

Of course, shoppers all seemed to agree the best gifts can't fit under the tree.

"The best gift I got -- being with family. That's the best gift of all," one man told Gusoff.

WCBS 880's Ginny Kosola On The Story


Holidays sales numbers have been disappointing, but people appeared to be ready for the post-Christmas bargains.

Sales of electronics, clothing, jewelry and home goods in the two months before Christmas increased 0.7 percent compared with last year, according to the MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse report.

That was below the healthy 3 to 4 percent growth that analysts had expected and it was the worst year-over-year performance since 2008, when spending shrank sharply during the Great Recession. In 2011, retail sales climbed 4 to 5 percent during November and December, according to ShopperTrak.

This year's shopping season was marred by bad weather and rising uncertainty about the economy in the face of possible tax hikes and spending cuts early next year.

But retailers still have time to make up lost ground. The final week of December accounts for about 15 percent of the month's sales, said Michael McNamara, vice president for research and analysis at MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse.

Still, this season's weak sales could have repercussions for 2013, McNamara said. Retailers will make fewer orders to restock their shelves, and discounts will hurt their profitability. Wholesalers will buy fewer goods and orders to factories will likely drop in the coming months.

If you exchanged your gifts or received gift cards this year, experts advise checking the individual store's policies. Some gift cards have expiration dates, and some start on the day of purchase.

1010 WINS' Gene Michaels reports


Steep discounts weren't enough to get people into stores, said Marshal Cohen, chief analyst at the market research firm NPD Inc.

"A lot of the Christmas spirit was left behind way back in Black Friday weekend," Cohen said, referring to the traditional retail rush the day after Thanksgiving. "We had one reason after another for consumers to say, 'I'm going to stick to my list and not go beyond it.'''

Despite the numbers, many shoppers are still taking advantage of those post-holiday sales.

"It's fabulous. I've been to Times Square. I've been everywhere. I've been to Macy's. Getting ready to go to [The] Gap," shopper Susan Benedict of New Orleans told WCBS 880's Ginny Kosola.

Tabatha Smith from the Bronx was among the shoppers hitting the stores early Wednesday.

"Anything that looks cute," she said.

Holiday sales are a crucial indicator of the economy's strength. November and December account for up to 40 percent of annual sales for many retailers. If those sales don't materialize, stores are forced to offer steeper discounts. That's a boon for shoppers, but it cuts into stores' profits.

Spending by consumers accounts for 70 percent of overall economic activity, so the eight-week period encompassed by the SpendingPulse data is seen as a critical time not just for retailers but for manufacturers, wholesalers and companies at every other point along the supply chain.

The SpendingPulse data released Tuesday, which captures sales from Oct. 28 through Dec. 24 across all payment methods, is the first major snapshot of holiday retail sales. A clearer picture will emerge next week as retailers like Macy's and Target report revenue from stores open for at least a year. That sales measure is widely watched in the retail industry because it excludes revenue from stores that recently opened or closed, which can be volatile.

Online sales, typically a bright spot, grew only 8.4 percent from Oct. 28 through Saturday, according to SpendingPulse. That's a dramatic slowdown from the online sales growth of 15 to 17 percent seen in the prior 18-month period, according to the data service.

Have you done more or less shopping than last year? Please comment below.

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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