Deeply discounted year-end clearance sales are giving U.S. consumers both a happy year-end and happy New Year gift reminiscent of the Great Recession retail inventory dump of 2008. After-Christmas shoppers won't have to look very hard to find merchandise discounted up to 90% at major U.S. retail chains like Wal-Mart, Target, Costco, Kohl's, and Barnes and Noble on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, and on the bonus last last-minute shopping day of the holiday season on Monday, January 2nd, an official work holiday on the 2012 calendar.
But the question is whether shoppers will have the stamina and the willingness to go the distance with retailers who are eager to sustain the record-breaking holiday sales activity through the day after New Year's Eve. It may be that U.S. consumers will drop from their record-breaking holiday shopping before retailers are finished deal-wrestling for the last and first sales of the year.
Consumers definitely won the game of consuming chicken this year by keeping their wallets shut between Cyber Monday and the last week before Christmas. And it may be that shoppers will ignore the mundane after-Christmas year-end 50% discounts to see if they can extract even deeper discounts from retailers again.
Some retailers, however, are not playing the after-Christmas graduated discount game this year. Barnes and Noble immediately filled their bins with the 90% off books. Nordstrom Rack has had its 75% sales racks filled since Christmas Eve. Shoppers can get discounts on top of clearance prices at Macy's, Saks and Nieman Marcus - both online and in the stores.
Everyday low prices at Wal-Mart are even everyday lower on 2,003 clearance items on Walmart.com. You can get 65% off deals at Target.com and "thousands of deals" in Target stores. Even discount-averse Abercrombie & Fitch is giving their too-cool-for-clearance customers a 40% discount on everything. Poor Mike Jeffries must either be out of the country or heavily sedated.
The shoppers who ignore the "final" warning on sale advertisements this New Year's Eve, New Year's Day and Why-Am-I-the-Only-One-Working Monday, though, may lose in the year-end consuming standoff and miss the best year-end clearance deals. For many retailers, the only way they could discount their clearance merchandise any more than it already is would be to give it away in exchange for a Facebook like.
For those who still have the energy to consume this New Year's weekend, remember that unlike the rest of the holiday shopping season, store hours aren't extended this weekend, but rather they're shortened. Stores will close early on New Year's Even and open late on New Year's Day, so make sure to check the list of New Year's store hours so you can strategically plan your last shopping marathon. You may be surprised at the unaccommodating store hours on New Year's weekend after the round-the-clock retailing in the past month. It's hard to believe that Costco will dare to keep its doors closed completely on New Year's Day.
Shoppers will also want to check out the list of New Year's Year-End Clearance Sales to bag the best discounts first. It's still possible that the shortsighted retailers will reconsider those stingy half-off offerings and succumb to some serious slashing. After the aggressively competitive 2011 holiday shopping season, it's hardly worth booting up your computer for less than 60% off.
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