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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Thursday focus: Shopping life

More evidence showed that December was a struggle for retailers in the deteriorating economy, though business improved somewhat in the days after Christmas as shoppers took advantage of even bigger deals.

According to data released Wednesday by SpendingPulse, a data service provided by MasterCard Advisors that estimates U.S. retail sales across all payment forms including cash and checks, overall sales of apparel fell 17.3 percent from Nov. 30 through Jan. 3, while footwear sales dropped 12 percent during the same period. Men’s apparel sales fell 11.3 percent for the December period.

Sales of electronics and appliances dropped 21.4 percent, while luxury goods suffered a 27.6 percent drop for the December period. Online sales rose 4.6 percent.

Data from the International Council of Shopping Centers-Goldman Sachs sales index also showed that stores received a little lift in the post-Christmas period, but overall holiday sales are still dismal. Holiday sales usually account for 30 percent to 50 percent of a retailer’s annual revenue. Many stores struggled as layoffs, economic woes and poor weather had many Americans cutting back on their spending. Major retailers are expected to report declines in sales and profits. They report their December sales figures today.

Skimping on meds? Drugstores aren’t immune from the recession, Gregory D. Wasson, president and chief operations officer of the Walgreens Co., told the New York Times.

“We certainly are seeing a slowdown in prescription drugs. In this economy, patients are not seeing their doctors as frequently, Wasson said. “There may be some cases they are skipping doses of medications to control costs. As far as over-the-counter items, we see consumers definitely looking for value. We’re also seeing a big increase in private label product. The consumer is willing to buy down.”

From wire reports

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