Merchants hope shoppers return after holidays


Christmas is over. Now is your chance to buy price-slashed sweaters, discounted red-and-green wrapping paper and half-cost poinsettia.

The tradition of after-Christmas sales has begun anew.

Though many of the most popular items, such as Teen-age Mutant Ninja Turtle toys, probably will not be discounted, many retailers probably will make special efforts to woo customers this week, retail industry observers said.

Typically, department stores make up to one-half the year's income in the last three months of the year, and so far, Christmas 1990 sales have been disappointing for many big retailers, said Michael Warshawsky of the Swiss Bank Corp. in New York.

With the economy apparently slipping into recession and

consumers' confidence waning, many retailers may feel they have to slash prices to win sales in this all-important quarter, he said.

But Mr. Warshawsky said the after-Christmas strategy may be ** backfiring. "Consumers are becoming very smart. They know the sales are coming," and some may wait to make important purchases, he said.

Those who did wait will find area stores have discounted clothing, Christmas goods, linens and video equipment.

William Ceglia, manager of the J. C. Penney store in Security Square Mall, said the retail chain is going to discount items such as clocks, gloves and flannel shirts by 25 percent to 50 percent after Christmas.

But the stores will continue the clothing sale that started before Christmas, he said.

At Saks Fifth Avenue stores in Owings Mills and Chevy Chase, where there were no pre-Christmas sales, managers will be cutting clothing prices by one-third to one-half, a company spokeswoman said.

At toy stores ranging from chains such as Toys R Us to local stores such as the Children's Palace in Glen Burnie, older and less popular items, such as toys relating to the movie Dick Tracy and older Nintendo computer games, will be discounted, the managers said.

At electronics stores, managers plan to discount items that are overstocked.

Charles Palko, general manager of the Luskin's stores, said the locally based chain selling video and stereo equipment usually tries to clear out inventory after Christmas but that the items "really depend on what we anticipated more sales with."

Sears will discount many clothing items but also will reduce prices on items such as garage door openers, lawn tractors and some tools, said Earl O'Bryant, manager of the White Marsh store.

At Valley View Farm stores, where there were no discounts on poinsettias and Christmas trees before the holiday, the owners traditionally halve the prices of just about everything but bonsai trees the day after Christmas.

And, they say, customers wait for the chance to buy inexpensive wrapping paper, cards and other items.

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