Shoppers Descend on Stores for Annual Post-Christmas Sales
Undated (AP) _ Christmas has come and gone, but as post-holiday bargain hunters jammed stores, many of the nation’s retailers found the day after to be as lucrative as the day before.
Shoppers lined up outside some stores before they opened Friday, and many businesses extended their hours.
Saks Fifth Avenue’s Manhattan store was ″close to a mob scene,″ said its general manager, Joseph Gromek.
Bullock’s-Wilshire, with 28 department stores on the West Coast, had its biggest day of the year in terms of transactions, and its revenues equaled those of the day before Christmas, said Jack McCarley, vice president for public affairs.
″It’s every bit as busy as it was before Christmas,″ said Lonnie Dykes, security director at the Beverly Center in west Los Angeles.
Stores reported that most customers were buying, not returning merchandise, and even those bringing gifts back were taking advantage of the sales.
″They bring one thing in but leave with three,″ said McCarley.
Many customers headed first for the heavily discounted Christmas cards, wrapping paper and tree decorations.
″We opened (an hour early) at 9, and they were lined up around the block,″ said Sally Sargent, a spokeswoman for Bloomingdale’s in New York. ″Trim a Tree is mobbed.″
At Macy’s flagship store in midtown Manhattan, customers pulled down the store’s own decorations and bought them.
In Chicago, customers lined up outside Marshall Field for discounts of up to 70 percent on furs, said a spokesman for the store, Doug Dome.
″Traffic is incredibly high″ throughout the 27 Marshall Field stores in Illinois, Wisconsin and Texas, said Dome. All departments with sales going on were enjoying a good day, he said.
Saks, Marshall Field and Bullock’s-Wilshire reported men’s items were selling briskly, and Bloomingdale’s and Marshall Field reported their home entertainment sections were doing well.
But some retail chains found their downtown stores relatively quiet while business boomed in the suburbs, as many offices were closed and customers shopped near home.
In the Washington, D.C., area, Woodward & Lothrop’s suburban stores were extremely busy, with customers waiting outside before the doors opened, said spokeswoman Robbie Snow. Woodie’s downtown store had a slower start, she said.
In Atlanta, employees at Rich’s giant downtown store had a chance to catch their breath.
″It’s been slow today,″ said Jeff Pilgrim, assistant manager in the boys’ department. ″I’ve spent most of the day cleaning up the mess from before Christmas.″
Some retailers, hurt by poor Christmas sales the past two years, stocked relatively lean inventories this year, according to Joanne Legomsky, an analyst with Standard & Poor’s Corp.
As a result, some stores sold out their Christmas merchandise before the holiday and bargain hunters Friday did not find much to choose from.
″Shoppers will not see a large selection of discounted merchandise, because stores did not buy for the levels (of sales) they got,″ said Dennis Allen, marketing director for The Mall of Memphis, Tenn., a 160-store complex.
Friday’s heavy sales volume gave the retail industry a chance to revive its December performance, which generally had been lackluster, said Walter Loeb, an analyst with the Morgan Stanley investment firm.
K mart Inc., the nation’s second largest retail chain, reported before Christmas that sales were slow at its 2,100 stores, and Zayre Corp., with 362 stores in 26 Eastern and Midwestern states, said it was disappointed by its pre-holiday performance.
Other stores, including Bloomingdale’s, Marshall Field, Bullock’s-Wilshire and the Wal-Mart chain based in Benton, Ark., reported strong sales.
Loeb said retailers specializing in durable goods - those expected to last three to four years - suffered the most. Specialty retailers, such as toy stores, and those selling fashion items did better, he said.
The retail industry depends on its Christmas sales for half its annual profits.
The major general retailers will be reporting their December sales early next month.