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Saratoga County residents cut back at Christmas

Dawn Oesch, president of the Saratoga Springs Downtown Business Association and owner of The Candy Company, said that she also would have preferred a white Christmas to the blizzards that hit right beforehand.

"That last weekend is usually one of our big weekends," she said, adding that "the influx of the last three days was a lot bigger than it usually is. They still come out."

The holiday season is when many retailers make their margins, with some relying on the two-month period for 30 to 50 percent of their revenues. With such disappointing sales, many retailers found themselves trying to recreate the frenzy of Black Friday on the day after Christmas with "doorbuster" sales and extended hours.

J.C. Penney in Clifton Park Center opened its doors at 5:30 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 26, and slashed prices across the store. Instead of just playing host to those looking for refunds or exchanges, the retailer tried to draw in bargain hunters.

One place that this season's poor weather didn't hit was the Internet. Online retailer Amazon.com reported that the 2008 holiday season was its "best ever."

Retailers across Saratoga County said that while the holidays of 2008 won't go down as a blowout, Saratoga County is relatively stable and has the best shopping around.

"We saw an overall increase [in shoppers] because there were fewer stores here last year," said Jeff Townsend, director of marketing at Clifton Park Center. "The aggressive merchants are still out there, slugging it out and making a buck."

"I think everybody had a good season, but not a great season," said Oesch of businesses in Saratoga Springs. "As long as you stay optimistic only good things can happen, especially downtown."

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