FOR THE WEEK OF NOV. 24, 2008
More fear than cheer for retailers this holiday season
In holiday gift features, product reviews or ads, find an item you'd consider giving -- or would like to get.
Look for an article or ad describing special sales this Friday for early-rising shoppers. Does it seem worthwhile?
Can you find information about online deals in any ads or news coverage about holiday shopping?
It's a month before Christmas and easy to see
Depressed stock market values, business bankruptcies, employee layoffs and other economic worries cast shadows over the holiday shopping season, which also includes Hannukah and Kwanza. So it's no surprise that moods aren't very merry at malls and local gift shops.
Retail sales have dropped each month since July, federal figures show, and October's slippage was the biggest one-month decline in 16 years. Electronic stores are particularly hard-hit, with Circuit City close 155 stores and filing for bankruptcy protection so it can reorganize. The Best Buy chain also is affected, as are national clothing stores such as Nordstrom, T.J. Maxx and Marshalls.
So gift-sellers are trying to lure shoppers with hot offers, Web bargains and offbeat ads. Sears announced 450 specially priced items from 5 to 11 a.m. on Friday -- such as a Sony Blu-ray Disc player for $180, down from $300. The Gap e-mailed 30-percent-off discounts to 5 million customers for use before Thanksgiving and also created humorous Webisodes featuring such unlikely pairings of artists singing traditional Christmas songs -- designed to be shared through Facebook and downloaded to iPhones. Even Amazon.com sent out holiday promotions this month for the first time.
Shopper says: "I'm definitely cutting back. Instead of buying for everyone, we're drawing names. And I asked my kids for a very detailed wish list so I know exactly what to get." -- Lori Robson of Morgan Hill, Calif., near San Jose
Retailer says: "In 42 years of retailing, we've never seen such difficult times for the consumer. People are making dramatic changes in how much they spend." -- Brian Dunn, chief executive of Best Buy
Adviser says: "Consumers may need some encouragement to get into the holiday spirit this year. No interest, no payments, layaway offers, door-busters, one-stop shopping, and rebate incentives will all be welcomed." -- Scott Marden of Vertis Communication, a retail consultant in Baltimore
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