160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! NEW YORK – In the days leading up to Christmas, the nation’s retailers worked up a lather to attract last-minute shoppers to salvage what has been a mediocre December. Department-store operator Macy’s Inc. slashed prices, and Toys “R” Us offered price cuts of up to 75 percent. At stake are retailers’ profits for the year and perhaps even the strength of the economy. While consumers jammed stores at the start of the season for big discounts and shopped early for Nintendo Co.’s hard-to-find Wii game console, popular video games like “Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock” and Australian sheepskin UGG boots, they waited until the end for most everything else, to take advantage of the best deals amid a challenging economy. The biggest disappointment comes from women’s apparel, extending a downturn that’s grown deeper in recent months and serving as an ominous sign for the health of retailing in general. Women do the primary shopping for the family, so analysts say it’s troubling that they are spending less time in the stores. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson“I have no money or time to shop,” said Tina Morabito, who started her holiday shopping Friday morning at a mall in Providence, R.I. She was buying greeting cards and mint chocolates but didn’t plan to buy clothing. “There’s been a malaise” among women’s clothing sales and “it has spread to other areas,” said Dan Hess, chief executive of Merchant Forecast, a New York-based research firm. “The panic button has been pushed, particularly in department stores.” And even with an expected sales surge over the weekend, which traditionally accounts for about 10 percent of holiday sales, Lazard Capital Markets analyst Todd Slater expected that the last-minute spending would be too little, too late.