Stores Fear 'Super Saturday' Shoppers Lost For Good

By Brian Thompson
|  Monday, Dec 21, 2009  |  Updated 6:15 PM EDT
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Stores Fear 'Super Saturday' Shoppers Lost For Good

Julia Chesky

The first shoppers let in were all Salvation Army families, who got first dibs on everything inside the store.

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Three.

That's how many customers came into the accessories boutique known as Esoterica in Red Bank, New Jersey's tony downtown shopping district on Sunday.

"Business certainly slowed down because of the weather," said owner Ellen Helpern, 55, as she shoveled snow from the sidewalk in front of her store on Monday.

Ironically, she said sales so far this year were better than at this point last year. At least, they were until the Super Saturday storm blew into town.

When asked what are the chances of getting that business back before Friday(Christmas Day), her answer was blunt and to the point. "None," Helpern said.

Red Bank had already lost 10% of its shops to the Great Recession, according to Nancy Adams, Executive Director of the downtown business improvement district that calls itself River Center.

"I expect more in January," Adams said, although not at the rate she saw a year ago. In fact, Adams pointed out that she sees an uptick in the economy as new businesses are starting to fill some of those empty storefronts.

But this past weekend's weather is no help. Certainly, the attitude of shoppers such as Edith Antonucci of Red Bank is discouraging.

"There's like three or four gifts I needed," said Antonucci of her Super Saturday shopping plans. "You know what, I'm not gonna go back out," she added, explaining that she simply decided not to buy them, replacing them instead with cheaper items she already had in her home.

Those are words to make any merchant cry.

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