Scrooge Goes To the Mall

As consumers balk, anxious retailers confront a potentially disastrous Christmas sales season

Santa Claus kicked off the Christmas shopping season in grand style last week in St. Louis, where he was escorted by 3,000 children to his castle at the sprawling 200-store Northwest Plaza. In New York City, Macy's staged its lavish Thanksgiving Day parade, towing Bart Simpson and 12 other giant balloons to Herald Square, where a 36-ft.-tall Paddington Bear now hovers invitingly above the entrance of the flagship store. In San Francisco holiday shoppers were making a beeline for the free merry-go-round and other rides on the roof of the Emporium. Across America, retailers are trying all sorts of stunts to...

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