With the holiday season coming to an end and traffic at local retails stores shrinking to a trickle, managers and owners are evaluating just how good things went this year.
From super-stores to luxury stores, most store managers reported an increase in traffic this year, especially close to Christmas. And compared to last year, customers seemed to shop more and spend more money this season.
“I think the last week before Christmas was the busiest week,” Chris Mitchell, a shift manager at Walmart in Eastgate, said. “It seemed to be just as good or even a little bit better this year.”
Mitchell said on Black Friday the store was open 24 hours and began its featured sale at 9 p.m.
Many other stores had earlier-than-normal Black Friday sales this year, which shifted the traffic pattern slightly during the day.
“We opened at 6 a.m. Black Friday,” Phil Borgemenke, owner of Sports Corner in Eastgate Mall, said. “We didn’t have many customers until 8:30 a.m. or 9 a.m.”
He said with other stores opening the night before it changed things on Black Friday.
“Especially when they stayed open all night I think it (had an effect),” he said. “You sit out in a line for six or seven hours at night you’re too tired to do anything else.”
Borgemenke opened his sports store in the mall near Sears about three months ago and sells a variety of sports team paraphernalia including apparel, décor, themed accessories and more.
While he wasn’t sure what to expect for the holiday season, he said his sales seemed to trend upward with the Cincinnati Bengals’ success, and especially in the days leading up to Christmas.
“We had a plan drawn out and we exceeded that,” he said about overall sales. “But we didn’t until the month of December.”
Whether customers were shopping at Walmart, for sports gifts or at jewelry stores, the trend seemed to be similar in terms of sales and traffic.
“I can tell you that it has been busier this year and we had a good year,” Debby Stobart, an employee at Hannoush Jewelers in Eastgate Mall, said about sales. “The traffic to the mall has been busier this year.”
Stobart said the holiday season is normally the busiest time of year for the jewelry store, but compared to last year, she said she was pleased to see they seemed busier this year.
Another indicator that people bought more gifts this year is that they bought more gift wrap.
“We’re a store most come to after the fact,” Cindy Gray, manager of Kirlin’s Hallmark in Eastgate, said. “They get their presents and then they come here to get their ornaments, gift wrap and that type of thing.”
Gray said the store had a really good season this year and said it even seemed like shoppers were out earlier than last year.
She said the changes in sale times at other stores on Black Friday hurt their sales a bit because people were shopping the night before, or way earlier than when their sale began at 8 a.m.
Similar to other managers and owners, however, Gray said the busiest shopping days were those closest to Christmas, and she too noticed an increase in traffic and sales compared to last year.
“Overall we were up from last year,” Gray said. “I hoped for that, so it worked out well.”