By Dave Cheng and Nicola Hassapis
Bells are ringing, lights are twinkling yet shoppers are waiting for last-minute sales or a chance to hold onto their hard-earned dollars a little longer in Boston’s downtown shopping district.
“People are definitely more conservative in their spending,” said Susan Ellis, who works in the cosmetics department at Macy’s in Downtown Crossing. “But we say the same thing every year and get panic-stricken, and then they all come out the last week.”
Ellis’ sentiments were echoed by 68-year-old Alice Mahoney, owner of local printmaking company Boston Off the Wall, who has worked in the area all her life.
“Stores just keep lowering prices, so people just wait and wait. But this year the big companies have said they bought less merchandise so they’re not going to need to do that,” she said.
Some shoppers are buying – just buying less. Others are scouting for bargains.
“My kids will still get some of what’s on their lists,” said Anne Kieran, a mother of two. “They just won’t get as many things as maybe they would have a couple years ago.”
And even those who choose not to shop are busy this time of year. A report in The New York Times said police departments across the country report a rise in shoplifting arrests — 10 to 20 percent higher this year than last, with more than $35 million in merchandise is stolen each day nationwide.
“Around the holidays it definitely peaks,” said a security officer at local mall/food court The Corner who asked not to be identified by his full name. “But so far I’ve only seen a couple of incidents. I’ve heard all these horror stories, but nothing big yet.”