After-Christmas Sales Begin Before the Holiday

holiday shopping retail sales
David Tulis/AP

It's beginning to look a lot like ... the day after Christmas?

On the day before Christmas, retailers turned shoppers' attention to the day after the holiday. (AMZN) already is offering "after Christmas" deals of up to 70 percent off clothes and 60 percent off some electronics. Old Navy (GPS) is running TV ads that its "after-holiday sale starts early" with discounts of up to 75 percent off. And CVS (CVS) was selling a wine cabinet for $10 off at $39.99 and three fleece throws for $9.99 on Christmas Eve.

Heather Nadler, 38, stopped by the CVS in Decatur, Ga., on Tuesday, searching for stuffed animals for her children. But she still plans to hit up sales after Christmas.

"I'll probably start shopping for me at that point," she said.

Stores usually wait until after Christmas to offer discounts of up to 70 percent or more on holiday merchandise that didn't sell. But Americans who are still worried about the economy have held tightly to their purse strings this year, and store sales have fallen for the past three consecutive weeks.

The pre-Christmas deals come as retailers are feeling pressure to attract Americans into stores during the final week of what's typically the busiest shopping period of the year. The two-month stretch that begins on Nov. 1 is important because retailers can make up to 40 percent of their annual sales during that time.

Sales at U.S. stores dropped 3.1 percent to $42.7 billion for the week that ended on Sunday compared with the same week last year, according to ShopperTrak, which tracks data at 40,000 locations. That follows a decline of 2.9 percent and 0.8 percent during the first and second weeks of the month, respectively.

Stores had a problem even getting Americans into stores, let alone getting them to spend. The number of shoppers fell 21.2 percent during the week that ended on Sunday, according to ShopperTrak.

Karen McDonald, a spokeswoman at Taubman Centers, which owns or operates 28 malls, estimated that business for the week that ended Sunday was unchanged to mid-single digit percentage growth compared with a year ago. McDonald said business "was just OK."

Overall, ShopperTrak estimates that holiday sales at stores so far are up 2 percent to $218.4 billion compared with the same period last year.
That's below the 2.4 percent forecast for the two-month period, but the company is standing by that estimate with a little over a week left before the season ends.

The National Retail Federation, the nation's largest retail group, also said it's sticking with its forecast that sales in stores and online will be up 3.9 percent to $602.1 billion.

In order to get that growth, stores have tried all they can to lure shoppers in. For instance, at the Garden State Plaza Mall in Paramus, N.J., over the weekend, Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF), AnnTaylor (ANN) and Express (EXPR) had 50 percent off sales. Gap (GPS) offered up to 60 percent off. And Steve Madden (SHOO) had a buy one, get the second pair at 75 percent off.

Stores, which typically don't discuss their discount strategy during the season, are hoping the sales will lure last-minute shoppers like Rubi Cuautle, 36, a restaurant manager. Cuautle headed to Target in Atlanta on Tuesday to shop for toys and pajamas for her nieces and nephews. "It's crunch time," she said.

But some analysts doubt the discounts will be enough to save the season. Research firm Retail Metrics predicts December revenue in stores open at least one year, a key retail metric, will rise 2.8 percent, slightly higher than last year's 2.6 percent increase.

Ken Perkins, the president of Retail Metrics, said reports suggest that the final weekend before Christmas "did not generate the final crush of shoppers necessary to save the holiday season."

At least one shopper isn't impressed by the early deals. David Arnold, 43, who works in IT at a bank, said despite earlier "after Christmas" sales, he plans to go out after Christmas because he's been eyeing a 55-inch TV at Walmart (WMT).

"For a 55-inch, the lowest I saw of a good brand name was $1200," he said. "I'm pretty sure I'll find a better deal after Christmas, I want to pay like $800."

-Mae Anderson reported from Atlanta and Anne D'Innocenzio reported from New York.

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Lora Smith

I just LOVE Amazon! 70% off clothing?? and shoes?? AND jewelry?! sign me up for that! plus I don't have to deal with crowds or anything. Here's a good list of amazon deals: good stuff.

December 26 2013 at 1:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Lots of exciting offers are shops. In addition, there are the coupons

December 25 2013 at 11:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Wilson Kendra

Amazon has already set up an after Christmas sales page. Here's how I got free shipping and 90% off: - Just awesome!

December 25 2013 at 3:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

We are not the government," just spend and give away what we don't make", You politicians do not understand that since 2008 we have lost more jobs and buying power, yet the hyper inflation makes it ten times worse, look at the cost of one gallon of gas, look at sky rocketing insurance cost and you might notice many apples are $ .75-1.50 each for one lousy apple? The dollars buying power has dropped like a rock and you are taxing us to death on money we don’t have or make while some of you take vacations that costs us millions of dollars for your two week junket in sunny Hawaii. When Obamacare gets done with us there will be nothing left…

December 25 2013 at 12:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If your sick of buying CHINESE GOODS, Get the TEA PARTY and The UNIONS and the religious leaders to start a campain in Sept, 2014 stating if you can't find a gift made in the USA for christmas , Bake a cake or make cookies , or any kind of home made dish and give that !!!!!!! That will send a message to businesses , The hallowed halls of Wasijington and the communist in china !!!!!!! MADE IN TH USA !!!!!!! ( washington)

December 25 2013 at 12:24 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to larrysheetmetal's comment

Proud to say ALL of my gifts this year were HOMEMADE by ME!!! I enjoyed the heck out of it and this is the first of many years to follow. Everyone should try it at least will have a blast stretching that imagination and creativity! Anybody that believes you have to put yourself in debt every Christmas to keep up with the Jones' I feel so sorry for you because you will never understand the true meaning of Christmas. The best gift you can give is of yourself...try it and see! Merry Christmas All!!

December 25 2013 at 1:14 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

The Lame Stream Media has been lying to us repeatedly regarding how great the economy is! What a load of crap!!!

December 24 2013 at 11:42 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Confusing numbers mentioned in the article. We hear it reported everyday that the economy is improving...Really? Stock market and industry comparisons are manipulation which is not the same as Americans spending their money particularly during the Holidays. If we aren't spending more then the grass roots economy is not growing or improving. Consumers are still very cautious.

December 24 2013 at 11:33 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Could've fooled me! I was at Target today to pick up a prescription and people were shoving and grabbing junk off the racks like it was the end of days! And for what? A lot of those same people are just going to return that junk anyway....

December 24 2013 at 11:22 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

That was a confusing storey, On one hand it says the customer traffic is down by 21% & sales are down by 2. 2% or whatever percentage & then it says the sales are up compared to last year & 2 or 3 different analists say they are up & the retail sector will have a 602 billion dollar bonanza this year compared to last year. Which one is it??? Make your mind up on your you want to report. You can't have both these situations happening at the sme time!!!!

December 24 2013 at 10:57 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Sorry, but "After-Christmas sales begin before the holiday " sounds really idiotic. Almost as bad as the Christmas season beginning right after Halloween.

December 24 2013 at 7:34 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply