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Last minute shoppers may not get best bargain

December 17, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
We're in the final week of the Christmas shopping season. Local merchants have been surprised by the sales. And for those who have been waiting for the last minute deals, may not want to wait any longer.At Westfield Shopping Center in Culver City holiday spending appears to be on the rebound. People aren't just window shopping, they're actually forking out the cash to get the items they want.

"I think overall people are more optimistic and are spending more," said shopper Gloria Cooper-Morgan.

"With the expansion of the Westfield Culver City, we're seeing a whole new customer base, new stores," said Chuck Martinez, Westfield Culver City. "We're seeing definitely phenomenal feedback from our retailers and customers."

Last year nationwide shopping was down from the year before. But this year retail analysts predict flat sales and flat is better than down.

"It's a good thing because last year sales were down 3.4 percent and I think customer shopping habits were based on needs verses wants," said Joan Storms, Wedbush Securities. "So this year we'll see different categories perform a little bit better."

Analysts say the downside for shoppers is that inventories are low

"We just passed by a Borders and walls were barren," said shopper Tiffany Reeves.

"GameStop didn't have anything," said shopper Tamika Reeves. "I'm trying to buy stuff for my boyfriend and it's really hard."

Which means retailers won't likely need to offer the deep discounts they did last December.

"There is less inventory out there overall and so the markdowns aren't going to be a prevalent, so they really shouldn't be waiting for those big 50, 70 percent off markdowns ahead of the holiday," said Storms.