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Inland Empire Business News May 21st.002
Inland Empire Business News May 21st.002

Christmas sales stumble early

Despite a recovering economy and some deep discounts, particularly in clothing and electronics, the holiday shopping season is off to a less-than-spectacular start.

Sales were down 11 percent during the Thanksgiving weekend compared with the same weekend last year, according to data released Sunday by the National Retail Federation.

Consumer spending dropped to $50.9 billion during the four-day weekend, down from $57.4 billion in 2013. That marked the second consecutive year that spending was down during the Thanksgiving-Black Friday weekend, according to the Washington, D.C. based federation.

That means about 133.7 million people shopped during the four-day weekend, roughly seven million less than the federation predicted would shop during that time. The federation also predicted that sales would be up 4.1 percent year-over-year in November and December.

Despite the sluggish start – Thanksgiving weekend is better known for crowded parking lots and long lines of shoppers – the federation is not backing away from that prediction, at least not yet.

“The holiday season and the [Thanksgiving] weekend are a marathon, not a sprint,” Matthew Shay, the federation’s chief executive officer, was quoted as saying. “This is going to continue to be a very competitive season.”

Locally, shoppers flocked to the Inland Center Mall in San Bernardino, said Terri Relf, senior marketing manager at that regional facility.

“We had Sears and Macy’s on Thanksgiving night, so we ended up getting a steady, consistent flow of people,” Relf sald. “We saw people carrying a lot of bags, which means they were buying and not just looking, and that makes sense. If you brave the crowds on Black Friday, you’re
buying something.”

The disappointing national numbers means a lot of people didn’t react to the deep discounts, early store openings and “doorbuster” promotions that a lot of retailers were offering, Relf said.

“I was a little surprised by those numbers,” Relf said. “I really don’t know what caused it. It could have been that too many stores opened early, and people didn’t go for that. All I know is we had a strong weekend.”

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