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Bargain shoppers scour stores for year-end deals
Shopping WEB 2
Shannon Tribble shops Friday for post-Christmas bargains in New York & Company at The Avenue Forsyth. - photo by Jennifer Sami

Armed with a gift card and inspired by discounts, Shannon Tribble spent part of her Friday morning with handfuls of clothing from New York & Company.

"This place is the best," said Tribble, a teacher. "They have the best deals."

Tribble is not normally a day-after-Christmas shopper. But, she said, it is "the best day to shop because there are all of these sales."

Post-Christmas shopping is an age-old tradition for Jo Ann Hamrick, who usually goes with her daughter on Dec. 26.

"[But] she had to work today" said Hamrick while shopping Friday at the Wal-Mart in Cumming.

Hamrick couldn't recall just how long she has observed the tradition.

"Oh my goodness, see how old I am? It's been years and years and years," said the senior citizen.

According to the National Retail Federation, November and December sales were projected to rise 2.2 percent this year.

While still an increase, it's the slowest growth in holiday sales since 2002.

The federation's chief economist has attributed the slowdown to financial pressures and lack of confidence in the economy.

This could bode well, however, for post holiday figures, as more shoppers may be holding out until after the holiday for gift purchases, when merchandise is deeply discounted.

Christmas items were about 50 percent off at Wal-Mart on Friday, which was enough to inspire Rhonda Gopaul to fill a shopping cart with late Christmas gifts and presents for 2009.

"I've come here before and it has been half price, so I'm just glad that it still was," said Gopaul, a Murrayville resident visiting her sister in Cumming.

At the nearby SuperTarget, business was booming Friday with discount shoppers, gift card holders and families.

"We expected a very busy day and it has been a very busy day," said Steve Reid, store manager. "Any time Christmas falls closer to the weekend, like in this case, most people are off for the entire weekend, so it generally tends to make crowds bigger all three days.

"You also get a lot of extended families shopping together as relatives are in from out of town."