Shoppers keep the registers ringing

TUPELO – Charlie and Angie Terrell didn’t miss out on the holiday shopping frenzy – they just waited until after Christmas.
The Alabama couple, armed with gift cards for several stores, planned to spend the day in Tupelo shopping for what Santa didn’t bring.
“We just got married and bought a new house, so we’ve got a few things we need to buy,” said Charlie Terrell.
They spent the first half of their day on Tuesday at The Mall at Barnes Crossing, where marketing director Cindy Childs said business had been brisk during the holiday season.
“We’re very pleased,” she said. “Business had been very good especially after last year being soft.”
Childs said sales for the season at the mall should be up about 6 percent compared to last year, when sales were up a more modest 2 percent.
Childs also said retailers at the mall were seeing more shoppers spend cash and gift cards rather than use credit cards.
The Terrells swore off credit cards when they got married and said they were sticking to a debit card and gift card spending plan.
“It will just make us shop a little smarter,” Angie Terrell said.
But that won’t necessarily mean they’ll find what they’re looking for.
Retailers, anticipating lower sales this season, cut back on their ordering, leaving inventories lower than normal.
The slim pickings for shoppers mean higher profits for retailers, who don’t have to resort to steep after-Christmas discounts that cut into their bottom lines.
Several stores at the mall had clearly been shopped heavily.
“Last year, retailers had a lot more merchandise,” Childs said. “This year, there’s not as much left for the after-Christmas sales.”
With the recession easing, shoppers have been in a mood to shop since the season began, said Jeff Snyder, the mall’s general manager.
“We saw that heading into the season and it’s been strong,” he said. “We had Black Friday numbers on the day after Christmas, which was really impressive.”
Snyder said customer traffic at the mall during the holidays is up about 9 percent, compared to 5 percent last year.
That shows that the economy is improving and that retailing in Tupelo is in good shape, he said.
“People were ready for Christmas and they wanted to spend,” he said.
According to MasterCard Advisors’ SpendingPulse, spending rose 3.6 percent from Nov. 1 through Dec. 24.
December sales figures will be reported on Jan. 7, giving a better picture of how this key selling season went for retailers.
“Well, I guess we’re doing our part today,” said Charlie Terrell.

Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal