RETAILING: Holiday Sales: Less Jingle This Year

Retailers always count on getting one big present at Christmas time: a surge of holiday shopping that clears their shelves and rings up about 25% of their annual sales. But this year Santa's gift to the industry turned out to be a lot smaller than usual. Right up to the end of the last full week of pre-Christmas shopping, unhappy store executives were complaining of too many open spaces at normally crowded counters or skimpy sales even in shops that were jammed with customers. Says Robert Berry, president of the San Francisco-based Joseph Magnin chain of specialty shops: "It's...

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