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Merchants report steady sales

December 27, 2010

Christmas is over, but shopping hasn't stopped.

Area businesses say Christmas shopping didn't decline this year, echoing national consumer reports that claim holiday shopping increased this year.

"We had some really good sales this year, so I think that drew people in," said Peggy Carter, who works at Shops on Main in Conover.

The store has been open about five years, and Carter said this year was busy.

Mary Hudson, of Taylorsville, came to browse the store Monday. The weekend's winter weather, she said, didn't deter her from hitting stores.

Hi Lites, a clothing store in Newton, reported Christmas retail sales that were the same amount as in 2009.

The store's assistant manager, Melissa White, said she noticed shoppers were more frugal this year.

"People were trying to get more for their money," she said.

Shoppers at Hi Lites bought smaller items, such as scarves and socks, instead of buying large-ticket items.

The store is preparing for a sales decrease in the coming weeks and will cut its hours of operation to combat that loss. White said the store will also offer large discounts to customers in an attempt to sell merchandise and move new items into the store.

Walker's Pharmacy in downtown Newton also reported steady holiday shopping. Store manager Rita Bolick said the store experienced a slight increase in sales this season, with customers purchasing a mixture of sale and full-price merchandise.

In addition to store shopping, consumers also turned to online shopping for their gift needs.

Reports indicate that online shopping increased on a national level by almost 16 percent. Online shoppers in the United States spent more than $36 billion from Oct. 31 to Dec. 24, which marks a 15.4 percent increase from the same period during 2009, according to a macroeconomic report by SpendingPulse.

"Today, eCommerce accounts for a much larger share of overall retail sales compared to a few years ago," said Michael McNamara, MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse vice president. "And during this holiday season, it registered double-digit growth for six out of seven weeks."

SpendingPulse's report revealed apparel was the top seller, accounting for almost 19 percent of online purchases. Electronic equipment was another popular item to buy online.

Online sales reached $1 billion on six days in 2010, which doubled 2009's record of three $1-billion days.

The National Retail Federation estimated holiday shopping will increase this year by 3.3 percent, which means spending during November and December will total more than $450 billion.

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