Retailers says Christmas sales were off

But some small shops say they did well
Dec. 26, 2012 @ 05:31 PM

Though slashed prices didn't help many retailers bring in shoppers, some Union County small businesses were happy with this year's sales results.

Sales of electronics, clothing, jewelry and home goods in the two months before Christmas increased 0.7 percent compared with last year, according to the MasterCard Advisors Spending Pulse report.

According to ShopperTrak, that was below the healthy three to four percent growth that analysts had expected and was the worst year-over-year performance since 2008. In 2011, retail sales climbed four to five percent during November and December.

Around Union County, sales were pretty good for Avon, which sells a variety of beauty products, Jackie McGuirt, a local senior executive unit leader for the company, said.

"This season, they have been really good," she said in reference to product sales around Christmas. 

Despite this, the amount of business around Christmas time this year was about the same as what the company saw last year. Avon offers a Christmas line that has been very popular with customers, she said.

Marie Hadden, who owns Free Spirit Gift Shop in Monroe, also describes this year's holiday sales as consistent with sales from last year.

Her business sells incense, crystals, books and various spiritual items but doesn't offer any specific Christmas or other holiday merchandise. For this reason, the number of sales she sees usually remains about the same as it has been during other times of the year, she said.

"I did very well, there were some products I was close to selling out on," Georgia Coyle, who owns Georgia Lynne's in Wingate, said.

This was her first year of running the business on her own and though she didn't have a previous year to compare the holiday sales results to, she felt she did better than she expected. Jewelry and scarves were some of the most popular items with customers, she said.

Maribeth Huggins who owns Main Street Monograms in Wingate, also felt her business did better than she expected.

"Just the volume of business, I wasn't expecting it," Huggins said.

She opened the business earlier this year and this was the first time she had gone through the holiday season with it. Main Street Monograms offers custom-monogramming services on items purchased at the business as well as on items customers can bring in. She described this holiday season as very busy and was happy to have so many sales, she said. 

According to Michael McNamara, vice president of research and analysis at MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse, retailers have time to make up lost ground since the final week of December accounts for about 15 percent of the month's sales. Weak sales for retailers could have repercussions for 2013 with retailers making fewer orders to restock shelves and wholesalers buying fewer goods and orders to factories.

Holiday sales are a crucial indicator of the economy's strength. November and December account for up to 40 percent of annual sales for many retailers. If those sales don't materialize, stores are forced to offer steeper discounts, which is a boon for shoppers but cuts into stores' profits. Bad weather from Superstorm Sandy for example, the possibility of the country falling off a "fiscal cliff" and other factors have been cited for reasons for drops in customer spending nationwide during this holiday season.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.