NATIONAL (NBC) - The post-holiday shopping rush is on, and retailers are slashing prices to move merchandise and get customers to buy. Preliminary data shows retailers suffered huge declines in sales during the critical holiday shopping period.
This is one last chance for retailers to boost their bottom line during one of the worst holiday shopping seasons in decades. Shoppers will be greeted with door-buster promotions and deeper discounts on merchandise already near rock bottom prices.
One shopper said, "Then we had the 20 percent coupon. And then we had the 15 dollars. So its almost like they're paying me to shop."
"We really did see the $15 gift card in the ads at Lord and Taylor and that's kind of why we came out," said another shopper.
Businesses have a lot of ground to make up. New data from cash and credit research group Spending Pulse shows holiday retail sales dropped between 5.5% and 8% from last year. Winter storms dashed retailer hopes of a last minute rush during the final shopping days before Christmas. In many areas of the country on Christmas Day, mail carriers delivered weather delayed gifts ordered by online shoppers.
"Oh I'm very happy this is my one and only Christmas present this year. I'm glad to get it today instead of tomorrow or Saturday," said USPS package recipient David Handy.
The recession, unemployment and ongoing credit crunch slowed consumer spending on everything including clothing and bit ticket items like electronics and appliances. Some who did splurge during the holiday period spent less.
On the day after Christmas, with returns and cash in hand, shoppers will be looking for the right bargain to entice them to spend. Dan Merims, owner of a souvenir store, said people are, "A lot more conscious about prices. That's the big difference."
It's a buyers market that is still a tough sell in hard times. Retail analysts expect overall holiday sales to drop as much as 2%. Major retailers won't know how bad or good the figures are until after the first of the year.