PORTLAND Many stores are offering post-Christmas deals and extended hours, to try and lure shoppers inside for more spending.

This year, shoppers can expect post-Christmas sales with deeper discounts starting on Thursday, as retailers continue to work to recover lost profits. The shopping season will stretch into January when many folks will start using their gift cards.

So far, sales are up 2.1 percent, which is short of initial expectations of up to 2.4 percent. If it goes through, it will be the weakest sales season since 2008 actually, said Mark Champion, with Morgan Stanley.

The holiday shopping season represents 40 percent of annual sales for most retailers. But this year, holiday sales have been down for three straight weeks.

Some retailers, including Kohl's, Macy's and Wal-Mart opened early on Thursday, to try and get a jump on the competition.

With the economy, I'm looking for more bargains, I want the cheapest but best deal I can get, said shopper Helen Heller.

Of course, the days following Christmas are also a big time for shoppers to return gifts they didn't want and use gift cards to buy what they do want.

Online shopping also cut deeper into brick and mortar stores bottom lines this year, retailers said. Plus, bad weather in some parts of the country kept shoppers home-bound.

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