Cash registers ring through holiday seasonWORTHINGTON — Deb Steinle loves the Christmas season.
By: Aaron Hagen, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Deb Steinle loves the Christmas season.
“I like the excitement of all the people being in here, and they are all happy and wanting to get something for somebody they love,” said Steinle, who is the store manager at JCPenney in Worthington. “It’s just a fun time of year. The Christmas season is our best season for retail, it just really is. It’s exciting.
“We enjoy having the customers come in and all the excitement of it. We’re really busy and rushed and work a lot of hours, but it’s really what we live for.”
For local stores, the Christmas season has been one filled with excitement.
“We are keeping busy,” Steinle said. “We do have a lot of local shoppers. With the Shop Local campaign, that seems to have kept our shoppers here in town, which is really nice.”
So far this season, electronics seem to be a favorite gift category.
“We’ve had a lot of business in as far as kitchen packages and TVs mainly right now,” said Justin Zitzka, a salesman at Karl’s. “It’s winter and getting cold out, and people want to have a nice TV to watch during the cold months. We do have a lot of good sales around Christmas time with LED and LCDs.”
Electronics have also been a big seller at Wal-Mart.
“Ever since they did go to the LCDs and plasmas, it was big, but it seems like this year has been a bigger push on TVs,” store manager Jeff Fouch said. “The tablets and iPads have been big. Anything that’s new and digital in media is what’s hot. That’s typically where we’ve been seeing the trend go to.
“That’s probably been the trend over the last several years,” Fouch continued. “Whenever the big media change, when the first iPods came out through now where we’re at, has been the big shift to that kind of stuff. I see more of that kind of material going to kids now than basic toys. Media is where it’s at, and gaming and anything technological.”
Some items have been gifts for others, while a few shoppers purchase presents for themselves.
“I’ve seen more people for themselves, to tell you the truth,” Zitzka said. “Smaller TVs you’ll get as gifts, or people will come in for their employees and they will buy small TVs for them. Other than that, it’s been basically for themselves.”
Downtown at Center Sports, owner Harlan Handevidt has moved different types of items.
“We’ve been selling a lot of Under Armour clothing. Caps have been selling well. Licensed products always sell well at this time of the year,” he said. “It would help if the Vikings were doing a little better and if the Twins had done better this summer. But the Wild are doing well, and we’re working on getting some additional Wild stuff in. Gophers basketball is off to a good start, so people are looking at that.”
The poor season the Vikings are having has affected the movement of licensed apparel.
“You still have the fans that are out there, and they still buy the stuff, but there’s a lot of what we call fair-weather fans,” Handevidt said. “When they’re not doing so well, they don’t even bother turning them on to watch them or listen to them. It makes a big difference if they are doing well. If the Vikings were — instead of 2-11 — 11-2, that would make a big difference.”
One factor in holiday shopping this year has been the mild weather.
“One of the things that’s kind of helped this year has been the weather,” Fouch said. “We haven’t had the blizzard we had last year. That was really devastating in December. I think that in comparison, we’re doing just as good or better than last year. But definitely, the nice weather has been a big influence on our sales, and December can be up and down with that.”
But there is a flip side to nice weather, as well.
“There’s two ways you can look at it,” Handevidt said. “Bad weather keeps them here in town. When it’s nice, it’s easier to travel out of town. We rely on a lot of people from out of town, though, for our business, so it’s good to have them get into town. It’s also nice for the people in town to stay in town.”
All the retailers can agree on one thing: shopping local is the way to go.
“A lot of it is they are still saving money because gas is still $3.19 a gallon,” Fouch said. “You add those trips on, and how much more can you put toward Christmas by shopping local?”