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A man carries his purchases after shopping at the Manassas Mall in Manassas, Va - 


Steve Chiotakis: There was some bargain hunting over the past week. But even last-minute shopping was disappointing. Here's Jill Barshay.

Jill Barshay: Under the Christmas tree this year wasn't anything close to a bare floor. But retail analyst Marshal Cohen of the NPD Group says Americans bought fewer gifts and spent less money on the gifts they did buy.

Marshal Cohen: In some cases, they would even not buy the significant other a gift this year. So maybe husband didn't buy wife, wife didn't buy husband. In most cases, one thing I kept hearing over and over was they were knocking the in-laws off the list this year.

Cohen says it's not just the bad economic times that are to blame. He says there weren't any new technological innovations on the market that might have inspired consumers to buy.

Retail experts say many stores won't be able to pay back loans they took out to finance their Christmas inventories. That means bankruptcies for them, and liquidation sale shopping for the rest of us in 2009.

In New York, I'm Jill Barshay for Marketplace.