Retail’s Open Door Policy

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As the U.S. retail industry suffers some of the most severe sales declines in history, stores are taking drastic measures to help boost some last-minute holiday sales.

An article in The Wall Street Journal highlights an all-hours free-for-all in New York City’s retail mecca, Times Square. Toys “R” Us opened as normal on Friday, December 19th, but it will not close until 8pm on Christmas Eve—a run of 134 consecutive hours. This allows people, whether mere night owls or those that simply fear mobs of shoppers, to shop for the season’s hottest toys in the middle of the night in less hectic aisles.

Other retailers such as Macy’s, L.L. Bean, H&M and Wal-Mart also have adopted marathon open hours in an effort to salvage their industry’s crucial fourth quarter returns. “In this kind of environment, you do whatever it takes,” says Michael Niemira, chief economist at the International Council of Shopping Centers. Some industry analysts don’t report a lack in mall traffic this year, but rather a significant decline in actual purchases.

As for me, I haven’t bought one single holiday gift yet. This has less to do with the slowing economy or my hesitancy to engage in battles for parking spots and elbow room, but rather with my family’s and friends’ reluctance to express what they want. (And I have some difficult people to shop for!) It seems that the best gift this December would be more jobs for Americans, a raise for the employed but underpaid, and health coverage for the sick and uninsured.

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