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Shoppers Descend on Stores for Annual Post-Christmas Sales

December 26, 1986

Undated (AP) _ Christmas is over, but many of the nation’s retailers have found the day after was as lucrative as the day before, after shoppers in search of post- holiday bargains jammed the stores.

″It’s every bit as busy as it was before Christmas,″ Lonnie Dykes, security director at the Beverly Center in West Los Angeles, said Friday as shoppers carrying packages crowded the mall.

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.

Shoppers lined up outside before the stores opened and many retailers extended sales hours to accommodate them.

Many customers headed first for the heavily discounted Christmas cards, wrapping paper and tree decorations.

″We opened at 9 (an hour early), and they were lined up around the block,″ said Sally Sargent, a spokeswoman for Bloomingdale’s in New York. ″Trim a Tree is mobbed,″ she said.

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, Dome said. All departments with sales going on were enjoying a good day, he said.

Saks, Marshall Field and Bullock’s-Wilshire on the West Coast reported men’s items also were doing particularly well.

And with gift giving behind them, many shoppers appeared to be looking ahead to New Year’s Eve. Both Bloomingdale’s and Marshall Field reported their home entertainment sections were doing well.

Even Bloomingdale’s furniture department, which had been quiet in recent weeks, was busy Friday, Ms. Sargent said.

But some retail chains found their downtown stores relatively quiet while business boomed in the suburbs, as many offices were closed and customers shopped at store branches near their homes.

In the Washington, D.C., area, Woodward & Lothrop’s suburban stores were very busy, with customers waiting outside before the doors opened, said Robbie Snow, a spokeswoman for the chain. 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.″

Stores reported that most customers were buying and not returning merchandise, but even those bringing gifts back were taking advantage of the sales.

″They bring one thing in but leave with three,″ said McCarley.

Some retailers, hurt by poor Christmas sales two years, stocked relatively lean inventories this year, according to Joanne Legomsky, a retail industry 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 they got,″ said Dennis Allen, marketing director for The Mall of Memphis, Tenn., a 160-store complex.

The sales gave the retail industry, which overall had lackluster pre- Christmas sales, a chance to revive its December performance, said Walter Loeb, an industry 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 before the holiday that it was disappointed by its 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 in early January.

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