NEW YORK (AP) -- As spring blossoms begin to bloom, retailers' thoughts are turning to Christmas.
And they're not happy thoughts, after the worst holiday season in at least four decades -- especially for upscale merchants and major toy sellers, who must order Christmas stock earlier than most.
Analysts say the determination to avoid a repeat of last year has merchants keeping orders small and leaning toward more practical, lower-priced items.
What they most want to avoid is amassing so much stock they're forced to offer rampant discounts to clear it out. So buyers say they're cutting holiday inventory by 5 percent to 10 percent or more.
One retail consultant says rather than "clutter up" with excess holiday merchandise, stores will strive to offer items that are "special enough to coax people out of their emotional and physical closets to come and buy again."
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