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Local retailers report improved sales in wake of post-Thanksgiving events


Several local retailers are reporting strong sales compared to last year following the busy holiday shopping weekend, a trend echoing national reports.

“Actually, it was really a surprise,” says Joe Davis, manager of Richardson’s Furniture in St. Helens. “I really didn’t know how it was going to be. We’ve had two terrible months, two really slow months, and I didn’t know what to expect.”

Davis reports a 2 percent increase in sales versus 2011’s Black Friday holiday shopping weekend. The initial plan was to open at noon, he says, but when shoppers began showing up as early as 7 a.m. on Friday, he opened the doors. His first customer on Friday bought a recliner.

From 9 a.m. forward, he was busy all day, he says, adding that Saturday — a day American Express credit card company has nationally promoted as “Small Business Saturday” — was the strongest. Davis also says foot traffic was improved and, despite the fact there were fewer overall sales, shoppers were investing in higher-quality, pricier goods.

Deborah Stansbury, owner of Bella Maison in St. Helens, also said this year’s kick-off holiday shopping weekend trumped 2011’s.

“Friday and Saturday, I did pretty good,” she says, estimating sales over the two-day period at 10 percent greater than last year.

All About Pets Assistant Manager Charles Van Cleave said his store decided to skip Black Friday promotions, a day in which marketing and media attention is primarily focused on big-box retail giants.

“It takes away from Thanksgiving,” Van Cleave said.

All About Pets did promote for Small Business Saturday, the first year it had done so, he said.

“It was OK,” Van Cleave said. “It wasn’t awful. It always could be better. For our first year doing it, we were very happy with the outcome.”

ShopperTrak (shoppertrak.com), a Chicago-based retail technology company, reports National Retail Sales Estimate at a gain of 2 percent for the week ending Nov. 24 versus the 2011 Thanksgiving week. This was also the first year several large retailers opened their doors on Thanksgiving Day, and several retail analytical companies are reporting increases in online sales for Thanksgiving Day as well.

At the Scappoose Fred Meyer, a company owned by Cincinatti, Ohio-based Kroger Co., cars packed the Friday pre-dawn parking lot as shoppers filed into the local retailer on the quest for holiday shopping deals.

“It was so packed. It was really good,” says Diana Young, store manager for Scappoose Fred Meyer. Thanksgiving Day sales were also strong, she said.

“We were really surprised how much business we had on Thursday,” she said.

Young said video games and electronics were at the top of the sales charts, as were socks. She said there were many obviously tired shoppers who took advantage of free coffee and doughnut giveaways. Also, the first 100 shoppers received a free CD.

Young says the sales increase was consistent with what the store has been experiencing throughout the year.

Not everyone escaped last year’s trend of less-than-stellar sales, however. Debbie Knight, owner of Sunsations gift shop and tanning salon in Scappoose, said the shopping weekend was a disappointment, as it had been in the past.

“It was horrible,” she said. Sunsations was closed Friday, she said, but opened Saturday to little foot traffic. Now, she said she is hopeful the remainder of the holiday shopping season will make up for the all-too-familiar trend of flat sales.

— Reporter Katie Wilson contributed to this story.