COMMENTS: Christmas Present

Christmas coverage was strictly commercial. No time for the festive spirit--the coming weekend is all about cold cash. "Crucial," NBC's John Yang called it. "If shoppers are not out in force this weekend some retailers have contingency plans for even more markdowns and deeper discounts." ABC's Betsy Stark took the same angle. She noted that spending at department stores and consumer electronics stores is lower than last year. "This is going to be a big weekend" for determining whether retailers will have to resort to pricecutting to attract traffic. "If the shoppers are not out in force this weekend those big sales could come."

On CBS, Anthony Mason noted that most retail sales improved in November before warning that "early reports suggest that December sales have started slowly." And CNBC economist Steve Liesman unveiled his analysis for NBC anchor Brian Williams. He predicted "a tough Christmastime for retailers and it is going to be a great Christmas for bargain hunters"--and then he added his caveat--"who have money to spend." Any increase in spending, Liesman found, will be "driven entirely by the wealthy." Households with annual incomes lower than $30,000 "are going to cut back on their spending."


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