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The holiday retail season was off to a rocky start, with November retail sales falling .6% from the month prior. While the Commerce Department will release December’s figures later this month, retailers had to deal with severe storms across the country right before the Christmas holiday.
How did things turn out? “Marketplace” has followed several small businesses throughout the holiday retail season and checked back in with them to see how they dealt with this year’s seasonal shopping landscape.
“I haven’t pulled all the numbers, but it looks like we outperformed the same time period last year,” said Venita Cooper in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The winter weather was an issue for Cooper. “We closed the Thursday before Christmas because there was ice on the road. But what it encouraged me to do was to open on Christmas Eve, which was our first time ever doing that,” she said. “It was one of our better sales days of the year.”
“We saw kind of a slow start to the holiday season, but sales really rallied in December,” said Eric Champlin in Hiawassee, Georgia. “We definitely saw more late shoppers this year than in previous years, especially the week before Christmas.” For Champlin, trying to go through excess inventory was a big challenge. “This year, we scheduled our sales to run a lot later in the year,” he said. “We really exceeded our sales goals and we were able to clear out a lot of the excess inventory.”
For Colina Bruce in Seattle, Washington, the weather proved a huge challenge, and she even canceled her candle-making sessions on Dec. 24. “We were fully booked for that day, so I had to send out messages to everyone and ask them if they would like to reschedule or be refunded,” she said. “It was definitely one of those challenging moments, but it also was an easy decision based on just safety.” Besides the weather, Bruce also wanted to make sure mail orders arrived before Christmas. “There were a couple of days where I pulled all-nighters, just packing out orders,” Bruce said. “But yes, got all the candles out.”
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