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== Seen: These boots were made for winter ==
 
  
For the past month, a tall, comfy pair of boots has been de rigueur for those tromping around outside in December's record snowfalls. Now, the heavy-duty footwear has doubled as blade-less ice skates on the sidewalks, courtesy of the recent freezing rain.
 
 
Whatever their role, [http://www.inugg.com/  Ugg boots] have come a long way from the days when Moon Boots were all the rage. Those marshmallow-like clodhoppers may have looked hip in the early '80s, but we're happy to leave them there.
 
 
While are-they-still-trendy-or-are-they-passe sheepskin [http://www.inugg.com/  Ugg boot] from Australia still bedeck plenty of feet, we're happy to see a range of fashionable leathers, knits, faux furs and duck-styles walking Madison streets, and keeping those toes toasty.
 
 
== Retailers feeling rather Scrooged ==
 
 
Retailers have a haunted look these days, but it's not because of a visit from the Ghost of Christmas Past.
 
 
When the Dow Jones industrial average hovered above 10,000 during most of the decade, and homeowners felt flush with equity as home prices soared, holiday shoppers spent freely on the latest hot electronics gadget or highbrow apparel brand.
 
 
Now, as shopping malls and retail stores desperately gear up for a burst of post-holiday clearance sales – tomorrow is being billed as the second Black Friday – it appears certain that the $300 billion U.S. retail industry will ring up its worst shopping season in decades.
 
 
Consumer spending fell for a fifth straight month in November – the longest weak stretch in half a century – while incomes fell and layoffs mounted, government data showed yesterday. The climate is expected to get worse before it gets better.
 
 
And economists keep lowering their holiday predictions. Michael Niemira, chief economist for the International Council of Shopping Centers, now expects sales at established stores for November and December to fall 1.5 percent to 2 percent from the year before – making it the weakest holiday season since at least 1969, when the index began.
 
 
“It's been pretty miserable,” said George Whalin, a retail analyst with Carlsbad-based Retail Management Consultants. “Maybe Wal-Mart and Costco and a few little niche retailers here and there will do well, but it's been pretty much what people expected. Consumers just aren't spending as much as they did in the past.”
 
 
As a result, one of the big worries for retailers is what to do with the mounds of items they still have to sell.
 
 
In Christmases past, stores could rely on a surge before and after the holiday to help save the season. But this year, it was virtually over before it began as stores had to slash prices on holiday goods as soon as they hit the shelves.
 
 
Stores had a good start, fueled by bargain buying, but sales soon flattened. For the last weekend before Christmas, total retail sales nationwide fell 5 percent from a year earlier as winter storms kept people home, according to research firm ShopperTrak RCT.
 
 
Now many retailers are hoping the next few days, beginning tomorrow, won't just be about returning merchandise. Once again, they're offering deep discounts and “doorbuster” specials designed to entice bargain hunters and gift-card recipients for a final shopping splurge.
 
 
J.C. Penney, which is opening its doors at 5:30 a.m. tomorrow, is offering more than 100 doorbuster specials – twice as many as last year. They include apparel for as much as 60 percent off, 50 percent off electronics and 70 percent off jewelry.
 
 
Consumers can even sign up at jcp.com to get a free wake-up call from the department store on their mobile phone.
 
 
Toys “R” Us circulars in newspapers today are billing the day after Christmas as the biggest after-holiday sale, with deals that include race-car sets originally priced at $81.99 for $19.99.
 
 
Upscale retailer Neiman Marcus is offering online shoppers up to 40 percent off select items on its Web site, including [http://www.inugg.com/  Ugg boots] and Alice & Olivia sweater dresses. Similar discounts also will be available at stores tomorrow, according to the Web site.
 
 
“These are real sales,” Whalin said. “Department stores like Neiman Marcus don't mark things up to then mark them down, and they rarely mark down. So there will be good stuff to be had out there.”
 
 
Alexandra Kearney and daughter Alex, who were picking up last-minute gifts Christmas Eve at the Bloomingdale's at Fashion Valley mall, said they plan to return after Christmas to look for a few select items – bed linens and that elusive discounted pair of True Religion jeans.
 
 
“The deals have been good,” said Kearney, a La Jolla resident. “Hopefully the deals will be better because they have to bring the spring merchandise in.”
 
 
Still, Whalin and other experts note that most consumers have yet to be swayed by discounts. If 70 percent off before Dec. 25 didn't make people splurge, will even-bigger deals afterward do the trick?
 
 
George Belch, a marketing professor and consumer-behavior expert at San Diego State University, doesn't expect consumers to head in lemminglike waves to shopping malls in the coming days.
 
 
“There has been a fundamental shift in consumer behavior,” Belch said. “People look at these things and say: 'Do I really need it? I may want it, but do I need it?'
 
 
“At the end of the day, I don't see post-holiday sales pulling retailers out of what has been a pretty dismal retail season.”
 
 
Buy [http://www.inugg.com/  cheap Ugg boots]
 
 
== Elizabeth Davies: These resolutions will stick ==
 
 
I’m not even trying to lose weight for the New Year this time around.
 
 
Never mind that I’m waddling into 2009 about eight months pregnant, so weight loss is pretty much an intangible dream right now. The reality is, I’ve lived through New Year’s resolutions long enough to know that wanting to lose 10 pounds in January isn’t the same as actually doing it.
 
 
Of course we want to lose weight for the New Year. We’ve spent so long gorging on cut-out cookies and veggie dip that the idea of nothing but brown rice and fruit actually sounds appealing. The problem is, healthy food tends to lose its appeal far sooner than junk food does. Hence the reason we’re back to wings and dip by the Super Bowl.
 
 
The problem with most New Year’s resolutions is that they’re way too big-picture. Sure, we want to be 15 pounds lighter by swimsuit season — but that’s really hard to envision when we’re decked out in turtlenecks and [http://www.inugg.com/  Ugg boots], shoveling our latest gift from Mother Nature.
 
 
And yes, it absolutely makes sense to balance our checkbooks regularly, make it to church every Sunday or set aside a few hours a week to help out at the soup kitchen. They’re all worthy goals. But the problem is, we have to actually change our regular habits and carve out time for the new stuff.
 
 
Then there are the vague resolutions: “I vow to be a better friend.” Or the resolutions that are out of our control: “I resolve to get a raise at work.”
 
 
Last year, my husband and I — both task-oriented individuals — made a point of setting up very specific New Year’s resolutions. Things like “We will spend every Tuesday night together” or “We will go out to dinner by ourselves once a week.”
 
 
For a few months, it worked. Our friends were amazed that we managed to get out on weekly date nights. Then, sometime in early summer, the baby sitter couldn’t make it. Then we got sick. And before we knew it, we had to wrack our brains to remember our last, honest-to-goodness date.
 
 
With a new baby on the way, I know better than to assume date nights are going to resume anytime soon. But there are a few resolutions I can make for 2009 that I’m fairly certain will hold:
 
 
I resolve to enjoy every last piece of chocolate that heads my way.
 
 
I resolve to partake in Sunday afternoon naps as frequently as possible.
 
 
I resolve to be back at the gym six weeks after having my baby. This one is actually easier than it sounds — the gym has both child care and showers, the two things a new mom wants most.
 
 
I resolve to shamelessly devour at least one gossip mag every six weeks, while I’m getting my hair done.
 
 
And finally: I resolve to spend at least one day in my pajamas, eating pancakes for lunch.
 
 
That’s more than a resolution in my book: That’s a staple for sanity.
 
 
[http://www.inugg.com/  buy Ugg boots].
 
 
== Rachel Bilson: Grocery Gal ==
 
 
Following a big night out on the town, Rachel Bilson was spotted taking care of her day’s errands with a trip to her local Los Angeles grocery store on Tuesday (December 16).
 
 
Bundled up in a black hoodie, colorful wool beanie cap and gray [http://www.inugg.com/  Ugg boots], the “Jumper” cutie followed the grocery run up by taking her pet pooch over to her mom’s house for a quick visit.
 
 
As previously reported by Gossip Girls, Rachel spent last night playing host at the D&G flagship boutique opening on Robertson Blvd.
 
 
Benefiting The Art of Elysium, the high-profile event drew out stars including Nicole Richie, Paris Hilton, the Madden brothers and Lauren Conrad, among others.
 
 
Buy [http://www.inugg.com/  cheap Ugg boots].
 

Revision as of 10:25, 12 May 2009

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