by: Robin Taylor Updated:
PITTSBURGH - Some not so festive numbers were released today on holiday retail sales. According to MasterCard’s spending tracker sales were up just 0.7 percent this year. That's the weakest increase in four years.
Analysts blame disrupting storms and economic uncertainty for lagging sales numbers.
After-Christmas sales could boost those numbers. The National Retail Federation remains optimistic that sales will be up 4.1 percent this year.
Consumer reporter Robin Taylor was out with shoppers today who were spending some of their Christmas cash, but the winter storm wasn't helping.
Things at the mall were very slow, but that’s expected to change as the roads get better and shoppers get back out there.
This week is a big one for retailers. It's when returns start coming in and frugal shoppers score bargains. Shoppers were at the Mall at Robinson for one of two reasons.
"Santa left us a lot of money, gift cards, kids have to get some things to go back to school," said Stephanie DeHass.
"I'm returning some clothes today actually," said Tom McAuliffe, because they were too small.
Retailers love post-Christmas shoppers because they often spend more than the value of the gift or the gift card. Many consumers prefer gift cards because they don't have to worry about the hassle of returns.
"It's better to receive gift cards instead of buying gifts and having to come back and return them again after Christmas," said Kayla Altieri, who was taking advantage of the sales.
The sales on clothing and stocking stuffers began the week before Christmas with 30 to 40 percent off. Now, many of the markdowns are up to 50 percent off.
"They're pretty good actually. There are some sales. There were a lot of sales before Christmas and there are a few more today," said Brianna Desmond, who was also spending gift cards.
Macy's began promoting its after-Christmas sale last week, with an extra 15 percent savings on all sale and clearance merchandise.
Time sensitive items like calendars are now 50 percent off. Other highlights include up to 70 percent off shoes at Aldo and up to 75 percent savings at Yankee Candle. New York and Company is really slashing prices with up to 80 percent off.
"This is a great day to shop if you're looking for deals. Bath and Body has great sales, and The Gap had great sales too, so I'm happy," said Sharon Henderson.
Retailers know that a lot of people are on vacation this week and they count on the sales drawing them in. Today’s wintery weather certainly isn't helping.
For many stores, the holiday season makes up 40 percent to 50 percent of their sales for the entire year.