Retailers are crying about lackluster sales in the days leading up to Christmas, but shoppers don't have to worry that this might hurt their post-holiday bargain hunting. If anything, it will help.

Price-slashing is an annual ritual, and this year it might be better than ever as retailers say they have too much inventory because of lower-than-expected sales.

The items that are expected to be discounted the most? Women's apparel and consumer electronics. Clothing sales have been down overall, so there is room there for bargains. Toys will still be discounted, but retailers ran some early sales to help boost lagging numbers, so the after-Christmas discounts won't seem so deep.

Stores used to dread January's low sales. With the dramatic rise in gift card sales, that's not true anymore. Retailers know shoppers will be out in January, so it's up to them to lure buyers back into the stores with great deals. Plus, shoppers usually spend more than their gift cards are worth, so retailers have an extra incentive to bring in the masses.

Forensic accountant Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations through her company, Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners honored Tracy as the 2007 winner of the prestigious Hubbard Award and her first book, Essentials of Corporate Fraud, will be on bookshelves in March 2008.

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