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Retailers report positive results

December 28, 2011

Official holiday shopping numbers aren’t in yet, but many area store managers report positive sales for the season.

The National Retail Federation estimates that customers will spend $469.1 billion nationwide this year. Final shopping numbers won’t come out until 2012, but local businesses are saying they’ve been busy.

“Our sales have been good, and we’ve had a lot of people come in to see us,” said Rita Bolick, store manager at Walker’s Pharmacy in Newton.

“We have sold a lot of toys. We were completely busy from Thanksgiving through Christmas.”

Bolick said an influx of area residents visited the Pharmacy on Friday nights during the annual Santa House exhibit on South College Street in Newton. She said foot traffic remains steady at the pharmacy this week.

This year marked Claremont Hardware and Farm Supply’s first Christmas.

Despite being new to the holidays, though, store owner Christy Sigmon said sales have been steady.

“We really felt like it went well. We had a great holiday season for shopping,” Sigmon said. “I think a lot of it is from being new, but people are learning what we have and are coming back.”

A few miles to the west, another hardware store is reporting good business. Conover Hardware managers say “circular” sales and good weather have helped business this holiday season.

“We’ve been real busy,” said assistant store manager Rick Auton. “It’s been a great season for us and we’ve seen a lot of customers.”

Auton said there are always items that are popular, but said Christmas buys always vary from shopper to shopper.

Business was not good for all local businesses, however, as Stewart Jewelry Co. Inc., Manager Daniel Salai simply said sales were “not too good.” He added that sales were down from last year and said the customer base didn’t change.

The National Retail Federation revised its holiday forecast upward earlier this month, expecting holiday sales to rise 3.8 percent this year to a record $469.1 billion.

NRF’s initial forecast, announced on Oct. 6, called for anticipated sales growth of 2.8 percent. While a 3.8-percent sales increase is considerably above the 10-year average sales increase of 2.6 percent, it is still lower than the 5.2 percent increase the retail industry saw last year.

While many shoppers appeared to be out and about this shopping season, even more were buying online.

IBM found that online shopping jumped 16.4 percent on Christmas Day over last year, and the dollar amount of those purchases that were made using mobile devices leaped 172.9 percent.

IBM tracks shopping at more than 500 websites, including Amazon.com, which is the largest. It found a huge increase in the number of shoppers making their purchases with iPhones, iPads and Android-powered mobile devices.

In fact, nearly 7 percent of all online purchases were made using iPads, just 18 months after the tablet computers were released by Apple Inc., said John Squire, chief strategy officer for IBM's Smarter Commerce unit.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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