Holiday shopping starting slow
Holiday shopping at local stores has started slowly, but it’s too early to predict how it will finish, area shop owners said this week.
“I think Thanksgiving’s timing threw people off a little bit,” said boutique owner Kristine Harder. “We usually have 10 days before December, but Thanksgiving turned into December 1st. People weren’t already thinking along those lines yet.”
Harder said her books show that local Christmas sales typically “don’t kick in” until Dec. 15.
“But I have a lot of sales for people who are shopping early, and it’s so much fun to have the Christmas lights and the music and the smells going. It’s festive at Buckshot and Bobby Pins whether people are there or not,” Harder said.
Tom Heywood, owner of the town’s bookstore, said “Black Friday” sales were good but not as high for the day as sales in the previous five years. “It was still a very good day… but it’s still too early to tell about the season. A lot of our sales come in the next two weeks. Christmas Eve is also very big for us.”
Electronics store owner Patty Campbell said she expects holiday sales to perhaps drop a little compared to last year, as her receipts have been down from a year ago. “I think it’s the whole economy. It’s just slow all the way around.”
Besides iPads and laptops, she’s selling the automaton insects called “Hexbugs” this year, Campbell said. “They’re kind of cute.”
Salvation Army Lt. David Kyle said kettle donations are running at about $130 per day compared to $150 daily last year.
“Things may change because the last week is typically the heaviest (in donations). But right now we’re behind,” he said.
Kyle said he’s heard from officials with the national Salvation Army organization that charitable giving is running about 35 percent lower than in previous years, at least partly because of the relatively short season. Bell-ringing typically starts Nov. 25 but was four days later, due to the late Thanksgiving date. Kyle said that starting the kettle campaign before Thanksgiving would “alienate the donor base.”
The kettle campaign had raised $1,645 through Saturday. Through the campaign and Internet donations, Kyle is hoping to raise $6,000 for emergency support for residents. Kettle donations raised $2,900 last year.
On the up side of the shopping season, sales of Christmas trees and wreaths both have increased this year, said Kim Larson, who helps organize the sale of holiday greenery shipped up from the Lower 48 and sold locally by the Venturer Scouts.
Wreath sales are up 40 to 340 this year, the 13th year Larson has been involved. “We’ve sold more wreaths than we ever have in the past.” The group also will sell 85 trees this year, up from 60 trees last year and 50 the previous year. (The Scouts previously sold small spruce trees cut locally.) “If we get the orders, we’re going for 100 (trees) next year. It’s a great fundraiser. People look forward to it every year.”