Drastic price cutting can be the upside of a recession for savvy Christmas shoppers.
But it will take the savviest of Utah shoppers to find the price slashing in Utah that's making headlines elsewhere.Several national chains like Sears and Toys 'R Us announced widespread markdowns earlier this month in hopes of thumping some life into a dying Christmas retail season.
But even the Salt Lake outlets of those chains responded to Deseret News inquiry with "Sales? What sales?"
A Sears night manager said she had heard nothing about the nationwide price-slashing Sears national headquarters had announced. A Toys 'R Us clerk said any sales at his store were part of a long-standing plan to clear out old merchandise. He saw no evidence of frantic slashing to lure reluctant shoppers.
Why? Because Utah shoppers aren't all that reluctant and our retail season, far from being in extremis, seems to be at least as robust as last year's.
While the national economy writhes with the agony of recession, Utah's economy has barely flinched. Hence, Utah shoppers are still making long lists and checking them twice.
"It's not going to be a banner year, but it's turning out pretty good," said Dell Stokes, manager of the downtown ZCMI.
"We actually have one more shopping day before Christmas this year because Christmas was on a Monday last year and this year it's on a Tuesday. That one day should give us a good increase over last year."
Yet, Utahns checking the ads will notice that ZCMI, Weinstocks and a host of other stores have been running brief 10 percent and 20 percent reduction sales.
Officials at some stores - outlets of national chains - were prohibited from making official comment on the sales. But off the record, they said they offered about the same number of sales this year as last year.
Weinstocks and ZCMI managers went on record with a resounding "No panic here!" statement. "The number of one-day sales we've done is the same as last year," said Weinstocks' Wendell Demaray.
ZCMI's Stokes said the same thing. The chain's one-day sales, which began a few years ago, do not outnumber last year's sales.
Waldenbooks' Wanda DeMik said, if anything, her store cut prices more deeply last year than this year.
Musicland's Jim Mathis said it's business as usual at his store.
So savor the national stories you hear about panicked merchants offering after-Christmas prices when there are still seven shopping days left before the big day.
Unless Utahns plan to finish their shopping in the northeast, hearsay is about as close as they'll get to those low prices.