Holiday retail sales up from last year

By Heather Sullivan - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Stores had a better year this holiday shopping season. The National Retail Federation says holiday sales are up more than 3 percent over last year. Some local retailers did significantly better than that.

Remember the heavy snow we got a week before Christmas last year? That really hurt local stores. But this year, they gained it back and then some.

Who could forget the snow that piled on Richmond a week before Christmas last year? Store owners sure don't. It kept shoppers away.

Even though Richmond had a little pre-Christmas snow this year, shop-owners we talked to say sales increased by double digits.

"For the month of December, we were up 23% and for the year we're up 17%," said Mark Burkett, co-owner of Mongrel in Carytown.

"One of the big pluses this year is we didn't have a storm the week before Christmas. That really was a bonus for most retailers," added Gary Weiner, owner of Saxon Shoes.

But it wasn't just a lack of snow. Shoppers were willing to spend. Nationally sales are up 3%, online sales are up 12%. And the total amount spent may be the highest since 2006.

"I think people were ready to spend," said Burkett.

After the last few slow years, many stores didn't buy as much inventory. But they say it didn't hurt them.

"If they came in and we didn't have it, they bought something else," Burkett said.

"We ran out of some things in early December and went back to the well quite a few times and we were able to really beef up the weeks before Christmas," said Weiner.

Shoppers can still expect to find big deals at after Christmas sales, though maybe not as big as the 75% off we often saw in 2008. But retailers say this is a good sign moving into 2011.

The average amount each person spent is higher this year, too. It's nearly $689, up from almost $682 last year.

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