Anyone who has waited until the last week of the holiday season to shop may be disappointed. Don't expect racks full of merchandise with markdowns as high as 75 percent.
A trip to Aventura Mall with Miami retail analyst Cynthia Cohen found many retailers have dramatically down-sized inventory. Department stores' aisles are no longer jammed with gift tables piled to the ceiling. The big sellers are items that have a unique flair or make a statement.
For consumers, that means retailers won't be forced into the type of deep discounts that were common last year in order to move merchandise off the shelves.
"Retailers are not afraid to be out of stock on Dec. 23 of a specific product," said Cohen, president of Strategic Mindshare, a retail consulting firm. "The only inventory with deep discounts is going to be the items that consumers didn't want.''
Less than two weeks before Christmas, there were already half-empty racks or shortages of popular items at retailers in Aventura Mall like Macy's, J. Crew and bebe. Items that sell out are just gone. If they are still in stock, then the selection of colors and sizes are limited.
Consumer Reports' latest shopping poll found that one-third of consumers reported an item they wanted was out-of-stock. That's likely to get worse as a National Retail Federation survey found the average person has only completed just under half their shopping.
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