20100611 shopping bag 35
A pedestrian carries a shopping bag as he walks through the Union Square shopping district in San Francisco, Calif. - 


BILL RADKE: You might find some bargains today -- Columbus Day sales and all. Retailers also hope you're doing your Christmas shopping already.

They're hopeful, but as Marketplace's Nancy Marshall Genzer reports, they're not quite desperate.

NANCY MARHSALL GENZER: Holiday promotions started earlier than ever this year, with some Christmas in July sales. But consumers are still cautious. And that's affecting prices.

Frank Badillo is senior economist at Kantar Retail.

FRANK BADILLO: Prices are dropping at a 2-3 percent rate from a year ago.

That's nice. But I'm from a family of bargain hunters. For my husband, 20 percent off, is an insult! We're waiting for those 75 percent off sales stores had two years ago.

Marshal Cohen is the chief retail analyst at NPD Group. He says we're out of luck. Retailers are lowering prices just enough to lure in consumers. No big discount.

MARSHAL COHEN: Look for it to be more about 30 to 40 percent off. That seems to be the number that consumers are responding to.

Plus, Cohen says, stores didn't order as much merchandise this year. So they won't have to slash prices to unload piles of unsold stuff.

Depressed in Washington, I'm Nancy Marshall Genzer for Marketplace.