Paramus, N.J. — Arriving at 11:30 a.m. Monday at Westfield Shoppingtown Garden State Plaza here, the parking lot was full, but it only took a few minutes to find a spot.
Inside the mall, some stores, such as the Gap, were very busy, while others, like BCBG Max Azria, were quiet. Both were running sales.
Nordstrom restrained from extreme markdowns, though a men's semiannual sale was in progress. The men's shoe department was like a busy deli with employees calling numbers for the next customer over the loudspeaker. "People are returning and buying," said a sales assistant at the Chanel cosmetics counter. "They're buying mostly perfume. It's not like years ago. Before, it was better."
Upstairs in women's, the designer area was quiet, but there was some activity in the lingerie department. "It's busy, but not great," said Wendy Batista, a saleswoman. "For our department, it was a great Christmas. There are lots of exchanges today, but things are picking up. Everything is 25 percent off."
Britt Taylor said she was shopping for sales but didn't see what she wanted. "It seems like the same things that were on sale before Christmas are on sale now."
At the Gap, a sign in the window trumpeted an end-of-season sale with up to 50 percent off. There were lines 14 deep at the cash wrap, tables of rumpled sweaters and sales associates carrying armfuls of merchandise. "Friday and Saturday were crazy," said Carlos Cruz, an employee. "Today is a lot of returns and stuff going on sale. This week is a clear-out type of sale. We'll have new stuff coming in."
Cruz said people were lined up in front of the store at 9 a.m., before it opened. "Last week was steady," he said. "It would jack up and die down." Women's denim and winter coats were fast movers.
BCBG's winter sale promised up to 70 percent off with signs on every rack and display table, while at J. Crew, the sale signs were more subdued. Cashmere sweaters were specially priced at $99, down vests were $79 and blazers, regularly$189, were reduced to $99. Resortwear was at the front of the store near the door. "We've been quite busy," said a store director, who declined to give his name. "Our products are doing phenomenal. The returns have been mainly size issues."He said an e-mail from headquarters Monday advised the store to take 25 percent off all sale merchandise at the register. "We had a great season," the assistant manager added.
Lord & Taylor posted signs at the mall entrance to its store alerting customers to "our biggest after-Christmas sale and clearance. Don't miss our Monday only specials." Gold jewelry was marked down 50 percent. "Today only, fall cashmere, originally $100 to $144, now $44.99," was an example of one special. Similar bargains could be found throughout the women's apparel department.
Benetton's assortments looked picked over. A sign in the window announced up to 50 percent off the entire store. "This is our semiannual clearance," said Dawn McDowell, district manager. "Traffic is down, but sales are the same. People are exchanging and buying. This is a high-volume mall. This store is a liquidation center so the sale will go on longer than other stores."
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