The stores don't want to have huge inventories come January 1 because of tax implications. On the other hand, when there is 3 or 4 or 500% markup for retail on a whole bunch of stuff, they can offer huge discounts and still make a profit; just not as much as they want. And it does reduce earnings somewhat, of course, which invariably spooks the stock market even more when such lowered expectations are announced.
Phoenix is right though. I already resent inadequate, untrained, (or indifferent) store personnel sufficiently to do most shopping on line these days. Add long lines, and I have to want something pretty bad to stick around. I figure at a certain age we're entitled to be a bit eccentric.