December 21, 2013

Retailers prepping for last-minute shoppers

With just a few more days before Christmas, area retailers are hustling to fill the needs of last-minute shoppers.

With just a few more days before Christmas, area retailers are hustling to fill the needs of last-minute shoppers.

Retailers say the shortened calendar between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year has left people in a crunch, and that the days leading up to Christmas will be the busiest shopping days of the season.

“Christmas is the best time for retail. The traffic picks up,” said Lupe Sanchez, owner of Bella Luz, 300 N. Mead in Old Town, which has been in business about six years.

“This year is a little different because the season was shorter and we’re not going to know how the season will end up until the very last day.”

Despite the short season and icy and snowy forecast this weekend, Sanchez says she’s optimistic about sales.

“I think it’s going to turn out great. They’re just waiting until the last minute (to shop),” she said.

According to data provided to the Associated Press from Chicago-based ShopperTrak, which tracks retail trends nationwide, sales are up 2 percent to $176.7 billion from Nov. 1 through Sunday.

That's a slower pace than expected with just a few days left in the season. ShopperTrak predicts sales will rise 2.4 percent to $265 billion for the two-month stretch that's typically the busiest shopping period of the year.

However, the National Retail Federation, the nation's largest retail group, stands by its forecast that sales in stores and online combined will be up 3.9 percent to $602.1 billion.

In addition to extended discounts, many retailers will be open longer hours in the days leading up to Christmas.

Best Buy announced it will be open 7 a.m. to midnight until Monday, Dec. 23 and from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

Courtney Hans, the store manager for the Best Buy at 2111 N. Rock Road, said they hope the extended hours will be more convenient for shoppers.

“Customers shop based around their time. Nothing is more important. So if we are open longer, we’re giving a better opportunity to meet them when and where they choose to shop,” said Hans, who has been with Best Buy for 10 years.

She said traffic to the store has been picking up.

“People are realizing that Christmas is less than a week away at this point,” Hans said. “This is the second biggest shopping weekend of the year.”

Kohl’s has also extended its hours, staying open for more than 100 hours straight for the first time beginning at 6 a.m. Friday through 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

Towne East and Towne West Square have also announced longer hours.

Contributing: Associated Press

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