Shoppers Brave Cold for Hot Deals

Retailers pull out stops to bring dollars in

As temperatures dropped this weekend, so did the massive markdowns that greeted many shoppers as retailers tried to woo consumers to open their wallets during the final holiday countdown.
From flagship department stores to main street shops, consumers found extended hours -- in some places, around-the-clock shopping -- and even some extra-cheery customer service as merchants hope to salvage one of the worst shopping seasons in decades, brought on by the recession and growing economic uncertainty.
At Macy's in the Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, shoppers were making purchases at 4 a.m. and officials expected the overnight shopping crowd to grow each night as Christmas Eve nears.
"It was active," said Mike Dervos, executive vice president of Macy's upper midwest division, who added that shoppers are buying many of the same items they've sought in previous years, like cosmetics and fragrances. "We were pleased."
In fact, more than a dozen Macy's stores were held retail marathons, with plans to stay open around the clock until Christmas Eve.

And for those willing to spend, the deals abounded. 

Donna Stricker, 70, from Buffalo Grove, did some of her extra shopping at Macy's in New York City. Among the executive assistant's new gear: a wool coat, two blouses and Christmas ornaments.
"I'm working," she said while admitting she actually spent more this year than last. "But I might not be next year."

Even with the great deals and creative marketing, the International Council of Shopping Centers expects established stores to post their worst performance for the holidays since at least 1969, when its index began. It predicts same-store sales, or sales at stores open at least a year, will fall as much as 1 percent for the November and December period, and fears the decline could even be steeper.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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