It's going to be a long, long day for anyone venturing out for holiday shopping. Just walking several blocks against the biting, northeasterly wind was so brutal this morning that only a brave few pedestrians were in Center City as desperate merchants unlocked storefronts and shoveled sidewalks on one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

Miraculously, by 10 a.m., all but one retailer inside the Shoppes at Liberty Place were open. But walking into the atrium-like retail space inside one of downtown Philadelphia's most conspicuous skyscrapers was a bit like walking into church on an off day.

Customers were scarce, but slowly beginning to trickle in.

So far, so good. At least that's how Arlene Campbell described her commute into work on a SEPTA bus this morning from her home in South Philadelphia to Fire&Ice, the jewelry store where she's a sales associate at Liberty Place.

"I was amazed that the C-buses were running up and down Broad Street really well and on schedule," said Campbell, 69, who left her home near Methodist Hopsital just before nine and made it to work about an hour later.

"The snow wasn't bad," said Campbell, "it was the wind that was bad."

But nothing would stop Campbell and her two coworkers from showing up for work on this, one of the retail industry's most critical shopping days of the year.

"I've been in retail for 20 years, and it is like a retail pact that you open - rain, snow, sleet or shine," said Campbell's district manager Lauren Rago, 40, who drove into work from South Philadelphia's Packer Park neighbrhoood.

"We're like the Postal Service... especially the sixth day before Christmas."