“Customers were coming in looking for specials and particular items,” said Rhea Brown, Macy’s district vice president for Miami - South. “People still want to buy those iconic things that are important to them. They’re looking for value and affordable luxury.”
Katrina Jones said she found plenty of value at Sawgrass Mills. Friday morning she not only finished all her Christmas shopping, she saved money in the process. Her wagon was filled with pajamas from Pink, fragrance sets from Victoria’s Secret and a stuffed bear.
“I’ve saved a lot this year,” said Jones, 37, of Fort Lauderdale, who estimated her savings at close to $300. “A lot of bargain shopping and coupons. Plus, the deals were better.”
But others disagreed.
Sherry Guo, 29, an exporter from China, walked out empty-handed Friday morning from Abercrombie & Fitch in Aventura Mall after only a few minutes.
“This is full price only, no good. Last year it was 40 to 50 percent off everything,” Guo said. “Prices (are) too steep, today is only 20 percent off.”
This year’s promotions were planned by retailers, who have managed inventory well going into the holiday season and don’t feel the need to mark down items in order to move products off the shelves.
“You’ll always have loss leaders that are very deeply discounted items that get people into the stores,” said Kathy Grannis, spokeswoman for the National Retail Federation. “We’re not where the economy was in 2009, so you’re not going to see those kind of deals. Retailers are trying to wean shoppers off those discounts.”
Yet, for many Latin American shoppers, the deals here are so dramatic they justify trips focused on shopping. At Sawgrass Mills and Dadeland Mall, savvy shoppers from Latin America pushed rolling suitcases and duffel bags that they stuffed with bags full of purchases.
Paola Leta and Gabriel Spinelli came from Montevideo, Uruguay just for the long weekend to do as much shopping as possible on gifts for themselves and others.
“Prices at home are easily three or four times as high,” said Spinelli, 27. “Each pair of Levi’s Jeans at home cost $300.”
These international shoppers help drive business for stores like Luggage Express at Sawgrass Mills.
“This is a great time of the year and where we make a significant part of our money,” said owner Bharat Chatani, who has had a store at the mall for nearly 20 years. “They go do all their shopping and then come here because that pretty much determines what size suitcase they want.”
Miami Herald Staff Writer Douglas Hanks and Herald Writers Elizabeth deArmas, Theo Karantsalis, Paradise Afshar and Jessica De Leon contributed to this report.