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NE Queens retail sales stronger than expected

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On Friday, Macy’s in downtown Flushing was a wreck.

Three days after Christmas and two days after Dec. 26, the day that shoppers traditionally return their holiday gifts, it was hard to find a clothing rack that was not full of discarded clothing. One unmanned customer service desk was covered by a pile almost two feet high of shirts and sweaters.

At the Roosevelt Avenue store, one of the largest in northeast Queens, it was the end of the holiday season for which many specialists had predicted slow sales due to a weakening economy and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

But while business was down at Macy’s compared to the 2000 holiday season, one employee said sales at the store were relatively strong.

“It’s been busy but no way compared to last year,” said Benjamin Arnold, an employee at the store.

Arnold noted that the Flushing Macy’s not only did better than the Manhattan flagship store but outpaced Macy’s stores on Long Island.

“The store is doing better than all the other Macy’s,” he said.

Most workers at retail stores in Flushing and College Point reported they experienced much the same shopping pattern as Macy’s. While sales have been almost universally slow compared to last year, many still have had a busier season than they had expected.

“It’s about normal,” said a manager at TJ Maxx at the shopping center off 20th Avenue in College Point. “It’s not particularly bad or good.”

On Friday morning the store, although not crowded, had its fair share of customers.

“I’m shopping just for myself,” said Judy Mandelbaum of Kew Garden Hills, who was inspecting plates at TJ Maxx.

Next door to TJ Maxx, an employee of Target talked about business at the store.

“We’ve been busy,” said Cathy, who did not give her last name. “But Christmas Eve last year was much busier.”

Danny, a customer at Target from Astoria, said he had spent just as much on gifts this year as last year.

“I’m a sanitation worker; I just got a raise,” he said.

Nicole Peluso, who began a job at Modell’s Sporting Goods at 39-12 Main St. in Flushing in November, said she has been working hard at the store.

“It’s been really busy,” she said.

Edith Guevara, a manager at the store, said sales were down from the year before.

“We had about a 7 percent drop from last year,” said Guevara. “It was better than expected, definitely.”

At Macy’s, about a dozen customers waited for the 10 a.m. opening of the store Friday.

Marietta Ciri of Flushing said she was there to return a holiday gift, adding that many people had showed up at Macy’s to return merchandise.

“I was here the other day and they ran out of money at the register because of all the returns,” she said.

While Ciri came early to make a return, other customers were intent on doing some post-Christmas shopping.

“I’m shopping for a friend,” said Jose Rosas of Flushing, “a late Christmas gift.”

Rosas said he had spent 25 percent less this holiday season than last, but he did so not because of the economy but because he had recently decided to move.

“I bought a house in Florida, and I’m moving down there,” he said.

Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 141.

Updated 10:25 am, October 12, 2011
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