NEW YORK - Retailers call today "Super Saturday," traditionally one of the busiest shopping days of the year. Businesses are banking on it because sales so far this season have not been as merry as many had hoped to see
Kidding Around is a specialty toy store in New York City. Owner Paul Nippes said today is his busiest day of the year.
"They're up from last year about 5.5 percent," he said about his sales within the last month. "But some of that is the influence of the early Hanukkah."
He's doing better than most retailers. ShopperTrak, which monitors consumer behavior nationwide, predicted holiday sales growth of 3.3 percent. They just cut it to 2.5 percent.
"Foot traffic growth has been solid," said retail analyst Craig Johnson, "but people are still very tight with their purse strings."
Johnson noticed a slowdown immediately after Thanksgiving door-busters sold out.
"Up and down the spectrum -- from luxury to mid-tier to value -- there's a lot of weakness. It's not terrible growth but it's tepid, sluggish growth at best."
Retailers say consumer enthusiasm has been dampened by the images from Newtown and the threat of higher taxes if Washington fails to cut a budget deal.
"Any time you take income out of a consumer's pocket, you are going to reduce consumer activity and retail spending," said Johnson.
So retailers are offering steep discounts to salvage the season. Teen store Aeropostale has cut prices 60 percent off its Web site. Children's Place, a kids clothing chain, is offering up to 75 percent.
"We're not that elective of a purchase," said Nippes. "When the kids need toys, the kids need toys. When you need a present, you need a present"
What Nippes needs is a big sales day.