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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bargains Elude Shoppers At Start of Holiday Season

Crystal balls, shiny garlands and brightly decorated Christmas trees have made their way into many Moscow shops and malls marking the beginning of the holiday season. But customers say rebates are rare and good deals hard to find.

"The Christmas spirit is definitely in the air and I enjoy all these decorations ... I just wish the prices were lower," said Yelena Mazureva, herself a saleswoman, looking for a gift scarf in a clothing shop at the GUM department store.

Merchants at several downtown shopping stalwarts -- GUM, TsUM and the mother of all toy shops, Detsky Mir -- had their hands full Thursday as the holiday shopping season got into gear. At other locations, however, such as the fashion boutiques on recently renovated Petrovsky Passage, few customers were in sight. At few places were stores trying to entice shoppers with big discounts.

"We have no sales because the boss is opposed to it, but it would help," said a saleswoman selling artifacts for doll houses at Detsky Mir who asked not to be identified.

"The only sales we do are when we want to get rid of stocks," said Yulia, who looked to be in her 20s, selling hats and gloves at GUM.

While the Western notion of massive sales seems not to have caught on fully among Russian retailers -- at least not this early in the season -- clients say they noticed stores investing more in Christmas and New Year's decorations.

"In the past two or three years, I have noticed more shops were decorated," said Yelena, an accountant waiting in line at the Podarki (Gifts) shop at the foot of Tverskaya Ulitsa. She added that she spends more and more each year on New Year's presents -- the traditional gift-giving occasion for Russians -- and plans to spend about $250 this year.

At the Podarki shop the top seasonal sellers are items such as wallets, candles and perfume, a saleswoman said. When asked whether any items would be on sale, a clerk said, "our prices are already low so they don't need to be lowered."