December 27, 2012 10:15:08 AM
Bargain-hungry Americans will need to go on a post-Christmas spending binge to salvage this holiday shopping season.
Despite the huge discounts and other incentives that stores offered leading up to Christmas, U.S. holiday sales so far this year have been the weakest since 2008, when the nation was in a deep recession.
So stores now are depending on the days after Christmas to make up lost ground: The final week of December can account for about 15 percent of the month's sales, and the day after Christmas is typically one of the biggest shopping days of the year.
Stores, which don't typically talk about their plans for sales and other promotions during the season, are known for offering discounts of up to 70 percent after the holiday. This year, they're hoping to lure more bargain hunters who held off on shopping because they wanted to get the best deals of the season.
Still, a powerful winter storm, which pounded the nation's midsection on Wednesday and is heading toward the Northeast, could hurt post-Christmas shopping. The storm is bringing high winds and heavy snow that disrupted holiday travel, knocked out power to thousands of homes and were blamed in at least six deaths.
The Macy's location in Herald Square in New York was bustling with shoppers on Wednesday. There were a variety of deals throughout the store: candy dispensers for 70 percent off, various men's clothes were "buy one get one free," belts for 50 percent off, a bin of ties for $9.99.
Ulises Guzman, 30, a social worker, was shopping in the store. He said he waited to shop until the final days before Christmas, knowing that the deals would get better as stores got more desperate. He said he was expecting discounts of at least 50 percent.
The strategy worked. He saw a coat he wanted at Banana Republic for $200 in the days before Christmas but decided to hold off on making a purchase; on Wednesday, he got it for $80.
"I'm not looking at anything that's original price," he said.