Shop Till The Ball Drops

Consumers go on a buying binge that could last well into the new year

As if anyone needed more evidence, the last holiday season of the millennium proved that America's real national pastime is shopping. At the mall, by mail order, or by mouse, prosperous consumers swung into high gear. And they didn't stop on Dec. 25. Online mall Yahoo! Shopping says that on Christmas Day it racked up more sales than on its busiest day in all of 1998. And shoppers flooded back into stores, too. "I was stunned" by the Sunday after Christmas, says Michael Gould, chief executive of Bloomingdale's. And with clearance sales still running, he crows: "It's not over yet." Indeed, some analysts are expecting the buying binge to last into February as Y2K-phobes spend the cash they had hoarded.

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