The holidays could make or break struggling stores

Clothing stores and specialty retailers are offering big discounts and heavily promoting curbside pickup in hopes of rescuing a lackluster holiday shopping season in which surging coronavirus cases have kept many shoppers at home.

For some, it could be their last chance at survival. And even a last-minute sales boost could be too late to save them.

The holiday season, which accounts for about 20% of the retail industry’s annual sales, has always been make-or-break for struggling stores. But it’s even more important this year as they look to make up for sales lost since the pandemic forced them to temporarily close locations.

That’s a big challenge given that the deadline to order online and get items in time for Christmas has passed. Retailers also can’t rely on big crowds of procrastinators because of restrictions on how many people can shop at once.

Big box retailers like Walmart and Target, which have been deemed essential and mostly allowed to remain open throughout the pandemic, have done well by attracting shoppers with safety concerns who don’t want to go to multiple stores. Supermarkets, home improvement stores and online retailers have also seen strong sales.

But many

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