Will poor sales turn to profits for retailers? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Will poor sales turn to profits for retailers?

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December 18, 2007

Albany - Retail sales for the holidays got off to a good start in Albany with After Thanksgiving specials on Christmas deals. But then retailers hit a slump, as shoppers turned to online specials and waited for those big ticket items to go on sale before they went shopping. With one last weekend left before Christmas, retailers hope to rack up sales as last minute shoppers hit the stores.

Maybe more of us are last minute shoppers than we realized. Not because we're procrastinating, just hoping to save big. "I think people are just waiting to get the best deal they can right here at the end," said Sears Store Manager Brian Flinn.

Shoppers like Ossie Thompson. It's no wonder she's looking for good deals, she's buying gifts for her 20 grandchildren today. "I'm finding a lot of things on sale," she said.

And so will you. Because of lackluster numbers after Thanksgiving, retailers have taken steps to get you in the store, and keep your money here. "There's deeper discounts on certain items, unique items that you normally wouldn't find to entice people to buy," said Flinn.

Brittany Brooks said, "There's a lot of 50% off of toys and 1/2 off a lot of merchandise."

At Sears, holiday shopping started off strong, then tapered off. "The economy is pretty tough," said Flinn. "The housing market is tough. Gas is high. There's all these different factors that go into determining what kind of decisions people are going to make when they spend for the holidays."

But fortunately for the folks here at Sears and Ossie Thompson's grandchildren, it hasn't really changed the way she's spending this year. "On the whole, I did about as much shopping as I always do," she said.

And Flinn hopes for more shoppers like her as the final shopping weekend before Christmas approaches. He said, "We're definitely counting on it." In order to open up a present of profits for Christmas.

If you are a last minute shopper, it may work out in your favor. Since Christmas is on a Tuesday this year, many stores will be open late on Christmas Eve. But there's a catch:  If you wait too long, the item you're looking for may be gone.

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