Last minute holiday shopping - New York News

Last minute holiday shopping

Posted: Updated:

By ANNE D'INNOCENZIO and MAE ANDERSON

Christmas shoppers thronged malls and pounced on discounts but apparently spent less this year, their spirits dampened by concerns about the economy and the aftermath of shootings and storms.

Talk about more than just the usual job worries to cloud the mood: Confidence among U.S. consumers dipped to its lowest point in December since July amid rising economic worries, according to a monthly index released Friday.

Marshal Cohen, chief research analyst at NPD Inc., a market research firm with a network of analysts at shopping centers nationwide, estimates customer traffic over the weekend was in line with the same time a year ago, but that shoppers seem to be spending less.

"There was this absence of joy for the holiday," Cohen said. "There was no Christmas spirit. There have been just too many distractions."

Shoppers are increasingly worried about the "fiscal cliff" deadline — the possibility that a stalemate between Congress and the White House over the U.S. budget could trigger a series of tax increases and spending cuts starting Jan. 1

The recent Newtown, Conn., school shooting also dampened shoppers' spirits atop the fall's retail woes after Superstorm Sandy's passage up the East Coast.

The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, which account for 24 percent of retail sales nationwide, were tripped up by Sandy when the enormous storm clobbered the region in late October, disrupting businesses and households for weeks.

All that spelled glum news for retailers, which can make up to 40 percent of annual sales during November and December. They were counting on the last weekend before Christmas to make up for lost dollars earlier in the season.

The Saturday before Christmas was expected to be the second biggest sales day behind the Friday after Thanksgiving.

After a strong Black Friday weekend, the four-day weekend that starts on Thanksgiving, when sales rose 2.7 percent, the lull that usually follows has been even more pronounced. Sales fell 4.3 percent for the week ended Dec. 15, according to the latest figures from ShopperTrak, which counts foot traffic and its own proprietary sales numbers from 40,000 retail outlets across the country. On Wednesday, ShopperTrak cut its forecast for holiday spending down to 2.5 percent growth to $257.7 billion, from prior expectations of a 3.3 percent rise.

Online, sales rose just 8.4 percent to $48 billion from Oct. 28 through Saturday, according to a measure by MasterCard Advisors' SpendingPulse. That is below the online sales growth of between 15 to 17 percent seen in the prior 18-month period, according to the data service, which tracks all spending across all forms of payment, including cash.

At the malls, overall promotions were up 2 to 3 percent from last year heading into the pre-Christmas weekend, after being down 5 percent earlier in the season, according to BMO Capital Markets sales rack index, which tracks the depth and breadth of discounts.

Attempting to drum up enthusiasm, retailers have expanded hours and stepped up discounts.

At The Garden State Plaza, teen retailer Aeropostale discounted all clothing and accessories by 60 percent. Charles David, Cachet and AnnTaylor had cut prices by 50 percent of all merchandise. At AnnTaylor, racks of discounted clothes had been marked down by an additional 25 percent. One dress, originally priced at $118, was marked down to $49 but with the additional 25 percent, it cost $21.30.

But the deals at the mall failed to impress Wendy McCloskey, 35, of Lebanon, Ind., who started her holiday shopping Sunday at the Castleton Square Mall in Indianapolis. A snow storm that blustered through the Midwest this week delayed her shopping plans, and a busy schedule with her children also got in the way.

"I was so surprised. I figured they'd have better deals," she said.

And at The Garden State Plaza in Paramus, N.J., Linda Fitzgerald said she didn't feel like shopping this season, facing a sister's cancer diagnosis atop worries about the economy and the Connecticut shooting.

"It's so hard to put yourself in the mood," said Linda Fitzgerald, a 51-year-old nurse from Yonkers who went out weekend shopping with her 17-month-old granddaughter in tow.

___

Anne D'Innocenzio reported from New York. Tom Murphy in Indianapolis contributed to this report.

 

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Dwayne Johnson hosts 'Hercules' screening for NYC children

    Dwayne Johnson hosts 'Hercules' screening for NYC children

    Thursday, July 24 2014 10:30 PM EDT2014-07-25 02:30:48 GMT
    When he's not slaying three-headed beasts with his olive-wood club, Hercules carves out time for the little people. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson treated fans from the Harlem Boys and Girls Club and Big Brothers Big Sisters NYC to an advance screening of his new film. I caught up with the larger-than-life action hero after the big surprise.
    When he's not slaying three-headed beasts with his olive-wood club, Hercules carves out time for the little people. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson treated fans from the Harlem Boys and Girls Club and Big Brothers Big Sisters NYC to an advance screening of his new film. I caught up with the larger-than-life action hero after the big surprise.
  • The Big Idea

    Making New York City more energy efficient

    Making New York City more energy efficient

    Thursday, July 24 2014 10:20 PM EDT2014-07-25 02:20:19 GMT
    More than half the population of New York City rides public transportation to work. No other metropolis in this country even approaches that percentage or the MTA's total number of riders. For that reason, New York likely ranks as the most energy-efficient city in the nation. But what would it take to make the city even more energy-efficient or even self-sufficient?
    More than half the population of New York City rides public transportation to work. No other metropolis in this country even approaches that percentage or the MTA's total number of riders. For that reason, New York likely ranks as the most energy-efficient city in the nation. But what would it take to make the city even more energy-efficient or even self-sufficient?
  • Suffolk County jail warden is highest-paid muni worker in NY

    Suffolk County jail warden is highest-paid muni worker in NY

    Thursday, July 24 2014 6:48 PM EDT2014-07-24 22:48:14 GMT
    New York State NewsNew York State News
    The Empire Center for Public Policy reports 1,803 local government employees outside of New York City have been paid more than Gov. Andrew Cuomo's $179,000 salary in the past year. The report from the fiscally conservative group for the year ending March 31 shows 47 of the 50 highest-paid municipal employees working for police departments or sheriff's offices and each taking home more than $250,000.
    The Empire Center for Public Policy reports 1,803 local government employees outside of New York City have been paid more than Gov. Andrew Cuomo's $179,000 salary in the past year. The report from the fiscally conservative group for the year ending March 31 shows 47 of the 50 highest-paid municipal employees working for police departments or sheriff's offices and each taking home more than $250,000.
Powered by WorldNow
Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices