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Post-Christmas sales expected to disappoint retailers

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A police officer crosses the street in a nearly empty Times Square on March 12 in New York

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We’re coming to the end of a challenging year for retailers. The holiday shopping season looked very different this year, starting in October with a heavy emphasis on e-commerce. The week after Christmas will also look very different, too.

Typically about 10% of holiday sales happen the last week of the year — and retailers count on that, according to Sucharita Kodali, an analyst with Forrester.

“There’s all the stuff that didn’t sell, retailers mark it down, consumers go rushing to stores,” she said.

Shoppers in an ordinary year head to malls to return gifts, redeem gift cards or just walk off holiday cookies. Not this year. For retailers?

“It’s going to be disappointing,” Kodali said.

With consumer spending throughout 2020 generally down, shoppers avoiding stores before the holidays and pandemic-related supply chain issues, in-store inventories have remained fairly lean.

After Christmas, though, stuff is going to flow into stores, according to retail analyst with Third Bridge, Nick Shields. “The biggest thing that the entire retail sector sector is anticipating is higher returns,” he said.

That’s because when people buy online they tend to return more. And, yes, online buying has been on the up and up.

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