Local News

Businesses launch final holiday sales push

Posted December 21, 2008 6:39 p.m. EST
Updated December 22, 2008 4:30 p.m. EST

— Packed parking lots and massive markdowns greeted many shoppers this weekend as businesses tried to woo consumers to open their wallets during the final holiday countdown.

Consumers have been cutting back on their spending in the face of falling home prices, a plunging stock market and rising job losses.

"It has been pretty slow, slower than we anticipated, slower than last year,” retail manger Christy Mills said.

Retailers have slash prices and offered deep discounts to get sales.

"It’s been great. I’ve actually gotten some good deals. I would say what I got, but then I might give away my Christmas gift, but I got some good deals on some good things,” shopper Brian Peterson said.

Auto sales fell by 2.8 percent nationally in November, a decline that had been expected after automakers reported that the month was their worst sales month in more than 26 years.

Despite the big drop in auto sales, some people were still buying new cars Sunday at Leith Autopark Chrysler Jeep of Cary.

"It's a nice little Christmas gift for me,” car buyer Joe Fahy said.

Sales are down about 30 percent over last year at Leith Autopark Chrysler Jeep. The dealership was open Sunday in hopes of meeting its monthly sales goal. With just 10 days left, the dealership will have to sell nearly 80 cars to reach the goal.

“It is really just a good time to buy a car and that is what we decided to do,” Fahy said.

Customer incentives are also driving customers to buy vehicles, even during tough economic times.

"There were a lot of rebates on vehicles. I think it (car) lists for (about ) $31,000 and we got it for (about) $18,000,” car buyer Andy Woodall said.

Consumers also found extended hours this weekend and even some extra-cheery customer service.

"They're really trying to get you in there," said shopper Kim Rardon, who was surprised by the price cuts she saw while searching for gifts at Crabtree Valley Mall.

The International Council of Shopping Centers expects established stores to post their worst performance for the holidays since at least 1969, when its index began. It predicts same-store sales, or sales at stores open at least a year, will fall as much as 1 percent for the November and December period, and fears the decline could even be steeper.