Stores Stay Open Late As Shoppers Scramble for Bargains

December 21, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
It's forecast to be a tight Christmas season for retailers. Because money is harder to come by for a lot of folks, like Fresno shopper Ramona Avila. "The sales are good, but when you don't have money you just kind of scale down. " She said. Adding, "I'm unemployed now."Marketing professor, Bill Rice of Fresno State says economic uncertainty means many shoppers are being frugal. He said, "I think people realize we are not out of the darkness here we're not out of the recession and they have to watch their dollars."

Retailers have responded with longer hours giving shoppers more opportunities to spend. Several Fresno area malls are open until 11PM. Discounters like Target and Wal-Mart have some stores open until midnight. Shoppers like Jessie Alonzo of Fresno, thinks it's great. "It makes it really easy, because it's not so much like we have to hurry up and rush before they close." She said.

Rice says stores are relying on heavy advertising campaigns, especially in papers, the internet and direct mail. "It's just like wow; I've never seen bombardment like this in my life." He said.

And while retailers had planned to avoid big clearance sales, shoppers like Jose Ramirez are finding late shopping bargains. He said, "Yes, they're all 50 per cent off and that's why I'm here."

Rice says Black Friday sales lead retailers to believe things were picking up, but Rice predicts business will fall short. "I think there's going to be less retail sales than what they are really expecting." He said. Rice expects retailers will be lucky to see a 1 to 2% increase in sales over last year.

But, that shouldn't be a big surprise. In a recent Action News Poll by Survey USA, 60% of those surveyed said they would be spending less on Christmas gifts this year.