Christmas 1994: The Race Is On

All signs point to a healthy holiday season.

Typically, retailers rake in roughly 25 percent of their annual volume and 40 percent of the profits from Thanksgiving to Christmas. The post-Thanksgiving weekend is important, though in the past two years it's become less crucial. Retailers now seek to spread the business through the week, and in many cases run pre-Thanksgiving promotions or notify charge customers of markdowns in advance of newspaper advertising after the holiday.

"We start our post-Thanksgiving event the Tuesday before the holiday," said Stanton Bluestone, chairman and ceo of Carson Pirie & Scott, by notifying charge customers of 25 to 30 percent savings on outerwear, sportswear and other areas before the holiday. "We've had a lot of interest among consumers Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving."

Bluestone observed that Thanksgiving may be the most crowded weekend for shopping, "but not necessarily the biggest buying weekend." He said, "The day before Christmas and the Saturday before that are bigger."

He said sales last week rose in the mid-single digits. Sources in the Midwest placed Carson's business ahead 5 to 6 percent.

"It was the most competitive pre-season I have ever seen," said Bluestone. The rest of the season, he predicted, will be more promotional than last year. "There's a lot of advertising out there by all of our competitors — and us."
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