Despite rosy predictions about this year’s holiday shopping season, some small San Luis Obispo County businesses are reporting, at most, only minor sales gains after Thanksgiving weekend.
The International Council of Shopping Centers predicted that national sales would increase by about 3.4 percent this holiday season.
The National Retail Federation predicted a bigger holiday season, with sales expected to reach $602 billion, roughly 3.9 percent more than in 2012. In its after-Thanksgiving survey, however, the federation found that sales during the four-day weekend fell nearly 2.9 percent.
Several San Luis Obispo businesses reported lackluster sales as well.
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“It was OK,” Posies in the Village owner Laurie Glenn said. “I would say shopping was about average.”
Glenn said that Thanksgiving weekend wasn’t a big one for the Arroyo Grande store, with most customers going to big-box stores for deals. She did see some more people on Saturday — also known as “Small Business Saturday” — but it wasn’t an extreme increase. Glenn declined to disclose sales for the weekend, saying just that they were on par with business they did last year.
In downtown San Luis Obispo, small businesses reported a wide range in how sales went over the weekend.
“We definitely did what we did last year, and then some,” Tom’s Toys Manager Carlos Macios said, though he did not have exact numbers on sales.
The toy store, which has been a fixture in San Luis Obispo County for 30 years, had at least 400 customers on Black Friday alone, Macios said.
The rest of the weekend was also strong, he said, because the store was running a four-day sale, rather than just on Friday.
Beverly’s Fabrics and Crafts manager Tam Bailie said November sales were up about 12 percent from last year, and the weekend’s sales were steady with last year’s, though she didn’t have exact numbers.
Kwirkworld manager Peter Ray said business picked up over the weekend but was still nowhere near what it would have been several years ago.
“Five years ago, we would have had amazing sales days,” he said. “Now, we are lucky to have, you know, $100-$200 days (in a non-holiday week).”
Sales for this weekend totaled about $3,500, which was down from last year’s sales, Ray said.
It was also significantly less than what Kwirkworld’s two other locations in Fresno and Folsom reported over the weekend, he said.
“I think the problem is changes are going on down here on Higuera,” Ray said. “I think we have to look at how people are shopping and revitalize. Downsizing is the way I think it is going to go.”
There is good news: Only about 21 percent of shoppers typically complete all of their holiday shopping during Thanksgiving weekend, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers. This gives stores a few more weeks to make up for weaker sales.
Glenn, for one, hopes this is true.
“We always have to be hopeful, being in this business,” Glenn said. “It’s the nature of retail.”