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“I was so surprised. I figured they’d have better deals,” she said.

And at the Garden State Plaza, Linda Fitzgerald said she didn’t feel like shopping this season, as she faces a sister’s cancer diagnosis atop worries about the economy and the Connecticut shooting.

“It’s so hard to put yourself in the mood,” said Ms. Fitzgerald, a 51-year-old nurse from Yonkers who went out weekend shopping with her 17-month-old granddaughter in tow.

• Anne D’Innocenzio reported from New York. Tom Murphy in Indianapolis contributed to this report.