From small independent shops to large nationwide retailers, Flagstaff businesses are looking forward to customers’ increasing confidence in the economy and planned generosity with gifts. In fact, the National Retail Federation (NRF) estimates sales to be up this November and December, the traditional holiday sales period, by 2.3 percent across the United States. That is a marked improvement over the dismal 3.9 percent drop in sales in 2008 and the 0.4 percent gain in 2009 holiday seasons.
“We are expecting a great holiday sea- son. The holiday season is traditionally our busiest time of year. We’ve had a great year so far, so we’re hoping that trend continues throughout the holiday and the end of the year,” said John VanLandingham, owner of Sage Brush Trading Co, PJ Chilcottage, Black Hound Gallerie and Basement Marketplace, all located in Flagstaff’s Old Town Shops downtown.
The same is true at the relatively new Fizz Bath Shop downtown, where owner Kim Yuhl says it has been a great year so far for her shop and she is expecting that to continue with holiday sales.
“People are looking for something unique to give teachers, colleagues and acquaintances without breaking the bank,” said Yuhl. “We have been fortunate enough to have seen our sales increase every month, and we anticipate that continuing throughout the holiday season.
“Though the retail industry is on stronger footing than last year, companies are closely watching key economic indicators like employment and consumer confidence before getting too optimistic that the recession is behind them,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay.
Lori Pappas, assistant vice president of consumer marketing business for The Flag- staff Mall and Westcor, agrees.
“This holiday season, we’re likely to see a steady, although still cautious, consumer. As everyone knows, this recovery is a slow one, but retail has had a positive year so far. Retail sales so far in 2010 have been up just a bit, which we think is a good sign of what to expect in the important fourth quarter,” Pappas said.
At the same time, NRF’s chief economist, Dr. Jack Kleinhenz, says consumers may have shown they are “once again willing to spend on what’s important to them,” but they are still “very conscientious about price.
“Retailers are expected to compensate for this fundamental shift in shopper mentality by offering significant promotions throughout the holiday season and emphasizing value throughout their marketing efforts,” Kleinhenz said.
Flagstaff businesses will be among those retailers offering such specials this season to give customers an added bonus for their business.
“In addition to our regular Facebook Special, we will be doing an E-Gift Certificate Sale, we will have a Special Gift Bas- ket offering on Groupon (www.groupon. com) Holiday Market, which we will announce and make available to our existing customers and we will have a Black Friday Sale,” said Yuhl.
“At Flagstaff Mall & The Marketplace, we’re celebrating the holiday season with special gifts for our shoppers. We will be giving away free gift cards every Friday in a program called Inspired Gifting,” said Pappas. “Right now, what matters is delivering special values, right alongside the beautiful holiday environment and special experiences that are so much part of this season.” FBN