The Stores That Scared The Grinch Away

To update the old carol, 'twas the season to pinch pennies. That's how many people felt about Christmas, 1990. As retail analyst and consultant Walter Loeb explains: "The consumer was worried about higher heating oil and gasoline prices, unemployment, and a war." Hardly a formula for carefree shopping--and not even mid-December clearance sales could boost overall holiday retail sales much. In inflation-adjusted dollars, Christmas sales actually dropped slightly.

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