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Shoppers unashamed in haggling for discounts

Shoppers returned to the mall one last time to complete their Christmas shopping lists. And the clock was ticking.

Some came to the stores hours before the gifts they’d buy would be exchanged. Some entered the mall looking to complete all of their shopping in one swoop. Some came to pick up a few last minute items.

But while they shopped, many were looking for bargains. They had plenty to choose from. Stores were offering steep discounts of 50 percent or more. Others drew bargain hunters looking for another great deal.

Brenda Cureton-Smith, owner of Faces Cosmetics at The Parks Arlington, said customers were unabashed in haggling for discounts, even on sale items.

“It’s all about the deals,” she said. “It doesn’t matter how much it costs.”

She herself is aware of how prices have dropped. After buying $250 worth of clothes at one shop at The Parks, she learned days later that the store lowered its prices on the clothing. The store gave her the difference: $81.

The Star-Telegram hung out at The Parks at Arlington mall Wednesday. Some snippets:

Lorie Lisius, general manager, The Parks

Why the last-minute shoppers?

With Thanksgiving arriving closer to Christmas this year, the shopping season was shorter, Lisius noted. Also, there are always people who find the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping to be an annual tradition in itself.

“We are cautiously optimistic” on the overall prospects for the season, she said. Some retailers she has spoken to reported better-than-usual sales. North Texas’ economy has been better insulated than other parts of the country, and Tarrant County has benefited from the flow of Barnett Shale money, she noted.

Brenda Cureton-Smith, Faces Cosmetics

How she measures holiday sales: She’s estimated Wednesday that a larger percentage of shoppers had shopping bags in their hands, compared to earlier this holiday season. But she’s concerned so many of them have come in expecting discounts.

How she’s competing this year: It’s important to be creative with getting shoppers’ attention, because there’s less money available for advertising, she said. Retailers have to compete against not only deep discounts of other retailers, but also stores going out of business, she said.

Wednesday, she had a disk jockey playing music and her staff dressed in pajamas.

Jerry Webb, Cedar Hill

Why he’s out shopping: Wednesday was his day off.

Game plan: Hit several malls and Target, looking for gifts for people on his list. If it’s on sale, great, he said.“If I feel it, I get it,” he said.

Percentage of his list he had to fill Wednesday: 100

Petra Jimenez, Arlington

Why she’s out shopping: Picking up a few last-minute gifts at the dollar store at The Parks.

About discounts: Some previously-bought gifts, such as men’s clothing, is now discounted.

Strategy: She looked for clearance and sale items more this year than in past years.

“In the past, I would buy, buy, buy,” she said. But this year with the cost of groceries and gas going up, as well as her family’s income keeping relatively stagnant, she said “it just seemed tighter.”

Bobby and Joyce Cox, Cameron, N.C.

Why at The Parks: Staying with daughter and son-in-law in Arlington

About discounts: Went to the Steve & Barry’s logo sportswear store three days in a row looking for deals. Noticed lots of discounts, such as 50 percent off or more at the store, which is closing.

Serina White, Fort Worth; co-worker, Shakeitha Davis; and White’s niece Whitney Wicks

Why shopping Wednesday: White was paid Wednesday and had time to shop

Where shopping: Steve & Barry’s, Foot Locker, Build-A-Bear

How much Christmas shopping to be done Wednesday: All of it.

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