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Tough Christmas for retailers
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The situation in the UK is similar to the United States.

Stores there launched their traditional Boxing Day sales early this year. Retailers slashed their prices by 50 percent, even 75 percent in the last days before Christmas.

Many stores reported a surge in sales at the weekend, as people ventured outside and into malls to snap up bargains.

British Shopper Aiden, said, "There have never been this many sales this quickly before Christmas. It was always Boxing Day and after, never before. So we've made a huge saving we did."

Shop owners say many consumers waited until the last minute to make their purchases and that they bought much more carefully.

Sue West, Selfridges Retail Director, said, "It will need an exceptional this week, week, this week to catch up with some of money that at the beginning of December that's lost. So, it has been a tougher Christmas, absolutely, a tough Christmas."

In France, the holiday season will be critical for the country's famous champagne industry, which makes 40 percent of its annual sales in the last quarter of the year.

The beverage has long been a potent symbol of French luxury and style.

Some believe the beverage will never go out of fashion, despite the current global economic malaise.

Benoit Tarlant, Champagne Maker, said, "Concerning the financial crisis, maybe fewer stock brokers will go out and spend 2,000 euros for a bottle just to drink after work. Nonetheless, people will continue to meet and to celebrate births and marriages, and champagne will always be a part of those celebrations."

Strong demand in both traditional and emerging champagne markets produced a record year in 2007. But the strong euro and financial crisis has caused sales to slip almost five percent this year.

(CCTV December 25, 2008)


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