December 28, 2010 in Business

Stores seeing green

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Associated Press photo

Angelica Vargas shops at Brea Mall in Brea, Calif., on Sunday. So far, it’s been the best holiday season for retailers since 2007, a record year.
(Full-size photo)

Shoppers spent more

 Revenue for the holiday season is on track to grow at its strongest rate since 2006. Total spending for November and December could exceed 2007 sales – the best season on record.

 Shoppers spent more across the board this holiday season. Clothing sales rose 11.2 percent. Jewelry and luxury goods showed strong single-digit gains compared with a year ago, though they’ve not returned to pre-recession levels, according to data released late Monday by MasterCard Advisors’ SpendingPulse.

 Total sales surpassed 2007 holiday spending, which reached $566.34 billion, though the figures aren’t adjusted for inflation.

Associated Press

Spokane shoppers shed some of their inhibitions this Christmas season, cheering merchants recovering from a recession-shadowed 2009, and 2008’s winter wipeout.

New businesses also said they were satisfied, or more.

At Dazzle, a Hayden clothing consignment store that opened in April, co-owner Dwight Lucky said December was a good sales month that helped introduce its selection to new customers.

“I’m not sure people necessarily think of a shop like ours as a place to shop for Christmas,” he said, adding he overheard customers who were buying for others saying they would be back to shop for themselves.

Hobby Lobby opened in August, months after it would normally begin its Christmas cycle, said manager Scarlett Suitter.

“Right now, we’re setting (up) for Valentine’s Day,” Suitter said.

Still, “It was hard to tell we’re in a financial crunch,” Suitter said, noting shoppers were waiting at the door when the store opened Monday morning.

At the Jewelry Design Center, co-owner Doug Toone said the 2010 shopping season has been good, if not 2006-2007 good.

He said Jewelry Design retrenched during the recession after a boom in sales that followed the opening of its new store at 821 N. Division St. in 2005.

“We’re trying to be smarter,” Toone said, by becoming more efficient, and ordering what he and his son Brian Toone know will sell.

He said business was much stronger this year. More customers came through the door, although they spent more cautiously, he said.

Up the street at the General Store, manager Nick Fjellstrom also said more customers spent more conservatively.

But the store benefited from a “perfect storm” of weather, he said.

November’s storms triggered a run on snow removal equipment, Fjellstrom said, which transitioned into strong sales of hats and gloves, then into gift buying. Black Friday set a sales record, he said.

Asked what sold well, Fjellstrom replied, “All of it.”

At fashion retailer Cues, co-owner Trish Thoen said buying started strong right after Thanksgiving and continued through Christmas.

She said the store will launch its post-Christmas sale Thursday.

Thoen predicted shoppers who took advantage of merchant overstocks the last two years will find post-Christmas inventories way down this year.

“There probably won’t be as many deals out there,” she said.

Simply Northwest owner De Scott said customers were mindful of efforts to get them to buy more locally.

The company’s gift baskets are always popular, she said, with the mix shifting from off-the-shelf collections to custom selections as the season progresses.

Scott said business customers held off somewhat, but many worried that longtime customers might become concerned if the customary basket did not show up. Baskets were sent, but they might have been smaller than in years past.

“You want to be associated with a successful company,” she said. “If you don’t take care of your customers, somebody else will.”

Scott said sales were strong right through Christmas Eve, so much so that hours were extended.

“People were out in force,” she said.


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