Local retailers, state group report solid holiday season
CAPITAL REGION Some local businesses on Monday reported a good holiday shopping season as businesses and groups worked to tally the final numbers from the gift-buying time.
Meanwhile, the Retail Council of New York State gave the shopping season an overall grade of B-minus, with its survey finding merchants had to work harder to make those holiday sales.
At Impressions of Saratoga in Saratoga Springs, a gift and souvenir shop at 368 Broadway, co-owner Marianne Barker called the shopping season a good one.
And that was with fewer shopping days because of Thanksgiving coming late, along with weather concerns, Barker said.
“We were a little concerned about the shortened season and that lovely snowstorm we had,” Barker said. “But people made up for it when the days were nice. We were busy straight through.”
Statewide, retailers saw an increase in sales volume of between 3 and 4 percent over the same shopping period in 2012, according to the Retail Council.
The grade of B-minus compares with 2012’s B. The 2011 season got an A-minus.
For the 2013 season, the council said retailers worked harder to get shoppers in and have them buy, using discounts, longer hours and promotions.
“It’s hard work,” council president and CEO Jim Sherin said in a news release. “The competition gets tougher year after year. Retailers of every size have to be quick on their feet to respond to consumer trends that shift at unprecedented pace.”
Retailers in Saratoga Springs were still tallying the final numbers, as were those in Schenectady.
Jim Salengo, executive director of the Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corporation, said he’s heard business owners talk anecdotally about a lot of activity downtown for the season.
One measure of that activity will be final numbers on a promotion that has run for a few years now, the holiday shopping pass promotion.
The promotion allows people to enter a drawing for a shopping spree by spending a total of $150 at any of 27 downtown Schenectady businesses. Salengo called the program a “fun incentive” to shop locally.
Businesses also worked on their niche markets and their social media marketing, Salengo said.
“We did see businesses being pretty creative,” Salengo said. “That’s what they have to do to stand out above the fray.”
The so-called “Small Business Saturday” also helped, Salengo said. The Saturday after Thanksgiving has become a day for promotion of small businesses during the Christmas shopping season.
At Celtic Treasures, 456 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, owner Paul O’Donnell said he was still tallying up the holiday results. He said the shorter season started off well with the Victorian Streetwalk.
“It was a good season, when it wasn’t snowing or raining,” O’Donnell said.
Retailers also had to deal with the impact of online sales, including customers who try out merchandise, then go home and purchase it on the Internet, the Retail Council said.
Doug Roylance, co-owner of Goldstock’s Sporting Goods, 98 Freemans Bridge Road in Glenville, said sales there have been brisk, especially for cold-weather gear such as gloves and hats.
Stores like his have the advantage of immediacy and expert advice on what’s appropriate that online retailers don’t have, he said. “You can’t necessarily get that from a machine,” he said.
Roylance said the store had a good Christmas season and the winter sales are continuing.
“As long as it stays cold and snowy, our winter sales can continue on for a couple more months,” Roylance said.