Average to above average turnout despite down economy
Daisy Boutique owner Peggy Rabin wraps a present at her downtown store. Statewide, retailers expect to see a slight increase in Christmas shopping this year.
Local retailers are reporting healthy sales during the post-Thanksgiving shopping period and that’s good news for Pickens stores who, like others across the state, often make a large percentage of their annual sales during the Christmas shopping season.
According to the Georgia Retail Association, holiday sales in December are expected to increase between 3 and 4 percent this year and local store owners and managers say they have been pleased with traffic in their shops so far.
“We’ve been extremely pleased,” said Nancy Tucker, owner of downtown’s Coco’s Cottage whose motto is: ‘Friends Don’t Let Friends Shop at the Mall.’ “We still have two more weeks to go so I hope it gets even better.”
Tucker said even during Monday’s rain people were still braving the elements to come into her store and shop. Not just window-shopping, Tucker said, many people are doing more than looking.
“We’ve had a great mix of people shopping and buying. Some people say they are just shopping and getting ideas and they’ll be back in.”
Tucker, like other downtown retailers, said weekdays are the busiest, with Saturdays surprisingly slow. She’s had success with specialty items for kids as well as clothes and, “just a little bit of everything,” she said.
Jasper Drugs and Gifts, a downtown staple for 60 years, is seeing similar traffic.
“I think this year is about average,” said Michael White. “The boutique has probably been the biggest thing along with Christmas cards and merchandise.”
The boutique boasts clothing, hats, jewelry, and gourmet foods.
“Our gourmet food section has done pretty good – Stone Mountain Pecans, Wind and Willow dips and cheese balls, and the Bodacious products,” he said. “We sell some of those products every day of the week.”
White echoed Tucker’s sentiment that Saturdays are slower than other days of the week.
“Basically we’ve had a good year so far,” he said.
It seems locals like to support stores that support their community throughout the year because sales are strong despite nationally online sales rising 15 percent annually, according to figures from the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Moore Furniture sales have been good this holiday shopping season, according to Danny Westbrook, owner Maxine Moore’s brother.
“We’ve done actually well this year. I would say we’re up a little bit (from years’ past),” Westbrook said. “Sofas and dining rooms have been strong along with recliners.”
Westbrook said business is steady throughout the week, noting that no one day is stronger than others.
“It’s a good overall balance during the week,” he said. “We have a good selection and she (Maxine) has been here 52 years so that doesn’t hurt.”
Westbrook said customers also appreciate the ability to purchase items without being charged interest at the local store.