NEW YORK - Shoppers who waited until the final days before Christmas were rewarded with big bargains and thinner crowds. But their strategic deal-hunting reflects why stores may not ring up the sales they want for the season.
Although fresh data on the holiday shopping season won't be out until after Christmas, analysts expect growth from last year to be relatively modest. Several factors have dampened shoppers' spirits, including fears that the economy could fall off the "fiscal cliff," triggering tax increases and spending cuts early next year.
On Christmas Eve, Taubman Centers, which operates 28 malls across the country, reported a "very strong weekend," with shoppers taking advantage of all the sales. But many last-minute shoppers across the nation in cities such as New York, Atlanta, and Indianapolis said they were spending less than they did last year and taking advantage of big discounts ranging from 30 percent to 70 percent off.