NEW YORK – The nation’s retailers slashed prices further Wednesday in hopes that a post-Christmas shopping rush will salvage holiday sales that, so far, have fallen below even modest expectations. In particular, they are waiting for legions of shoppers armed with gift cards to snap up bargains and buy fresh new merchandise that just hit store shelves.
Merchants in past years have received a late bounce during big clearance markdowns, and they find themselves again in the position of hoping that bargain-hunting consumers will come through in the end. Gift card sales are not recorded until shoppers redeem them.
Investors, however, grew pessimistic about this holiday season as well as the financial well being of consumers in a challenging economic environment. Shares of most retailers fell Wednesday, led by. which sank as much as 5 percent in afternoon trading.