Last-minute shoppers find deals at stores, on web

Sunday, December 23, 2012
Shoppers wait in line to check out at JC Penny in West Park Mall on Saturday in Cape Girardeau. "Super Saturday," the Saturday before Christmas, is often the second busiest shopping day of the year, behind Black Friday. (Adam Vogler)

Procrastinating shoppers who packed into Cape Girardeau stores Saturday saw plenty of savings.

Retailers were slashing prices in hopes the deals would motivate shoppers to spend more in a holiday shopping season that has been less than stellar.

Super Saturday, the Saturday before Christmas, typically is the second-busiest shopping day of the year.

"We've got a lot of last-minute shoppers picking up those last few deals," said Tammy Maddock, service and training manger at Old Navy in the West Park Mall in Cape Girardeau.

Local retailers say sales have been steady since a strong Black Friday start, but sales have been slow nationwide.

ShopperTrak, which counts foot traffic and its proprietary sales numbers from 40,000 retail outlets across the country, has reduced its holiday sales forecast to $257.7 billion, a 2.5 percent increase from this time last year, but down from the 3.3 percent growth it had initially predicted.

The price-slashing in the final shopping days before Christmas is good news for shoppers, but hurts stores.

Their profits likely will suffer in a last-ditch effort to boost sales during the two-month holiday-shopping period, a time when they can make up to 40 percent of their annual revenue.

Teen retailer Aeropostale Inc. cut prices on everything in its stores by 60 percent; rival teen chain American Eagle Outfitters is offering 40 percent off all purchases in its stores. Children's Place offered 75 percent off at its website this weekend.

Old Navy had a "Gift-tacular" promotion offering deep discounts on basics like T-shirts, pajamas, scarves and gloves, Maddock said.

At JC Penney, a holiday button promotion -- in which customers could win store coupons and gift certificates by entering the button codes online -- resulted in customers bringing in those certificates by the handful said JC Penney manager Sarah Grigaitis.

"Shoppers are looking for the best deal they can get," she said.

Foot traffic in the store also was good during the weekend.

"Crowds were exceptional Friday," Grigaitis said. Saturday was a little slower, which she attributed to some families celebrating Christmas on Saturday.

Last week's cold snap has renewed shoppers' interest in coats, boots and gloves, Grigaitis said.

"Last year we had a cold snap in September. It took a while this year, but that stuff is moving pretty good now," she said.

Grigaitis and Maddock said shoppers seem to be spending about the same amounts as they did last year.

At Cape Girardeau's newest major retailer, Menards, which opened in May, assistant general manager Kevin Goodreau said sales have been strong.

"It's been great since Thanksgiving," he said.

According to a survey of 1,000 consumers, which was conducted by the International Council of Shopping Centers and Goldman Sachs, 64.9 percent of shoppers surveyed had finished their holiday buying as of Dec. 16. That's down from 70.3 percent during the same time a year ago.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

mmiller@semissourian.com

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3049 William St., Cape Girardeau, Mo.

535 Siemers Drive, Cape Girardeau, Mo.

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