Saturday, December 22, 2012

The pre-Christmas Weekend Rush: Maybe not this year

Walking through the mall today to complete some last-minute shopping, I was surprised not to find the expected pre-Christmas weekend rush. There wasn't the usual hustle and bustle of past holidays and wait time at checkout counters was kept to a tolerable limit.

My first reaction was to look over at the racks and shelves to estimate sales volume. If racks are full and shelves adequately stacked, that would symbolize lackluster sales. Empty shelves and cleared clothing racks reflect the typical postponed shopping frenzy.

Department stores were well stocked, some even had merchandise available in storage. As I made my way over to the discount stores, I found many empty shelves and was told their inventory would not be replenished for the time being. In other words,what you saw is what you got.

Which leads me to believe that Americans have either opted for discount shopping this holiday season or have turned online for holiday purchases. In 2009, online shopping made up a total of 49 percent of all non-store sales according to the Census Bureau. Music and videos made up a majority of the sales volume at 83 percent and electronic and appliances came in second at 80 percent.

Online purchases should increase now with the growth of one-stop shopping sites, where consumers can make all their purchases at one place. My daughter mentioned such a site to me today. Launched by three San Francisco natives, Wanelo is a shopping spree come true for online enthusiasts needing to either browse or shop for a variety of merchandise. There's even the option to bookmark items to save for later purchase.

A search through the Internet turned up a site comprised of several brick and mortar retailers, with a portion of sales to be donated to a choice of charities. So, gifts and donations can be accomplished at one site and not stressed over throughout the holiday season.

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