Sun Biz: Consumers hold out hope for late season sales

Reviews are mixed in Grand Junction about holiday retail in light of national reports that retailers are expecting a difficult Christmas season for retail sales.

The recent downturn of the economy has made some local shoppers hesitant to get out there early.

Those brave enough to start their holiday shopping early gave mixed reports about what they were seeing.

“Everything else is so expensive — gas and groceries — why can’t we get a deal?” said Twila Gallob, 26, of Hotchkiss, who was shopping with her mother and child at Mesa Mall last week. “We ought to be able to get a break.”

“(J.C.) Penney’s has got a lot of great sales on shoes,” said Cherie Bardsley, 52, who was visiting her mother in Grand Junction and was holding a bag from Victoria’s Secret, which she said was still not having big sales. “The sales here have been pretty good. We just went to Christopher & Banks and got pants for 30 percent off.”

Several people said they weren’t seeing the markdowns they expected, but some stores were offering sales.

“I just happened to be walking by American Eagle, and they’re just now rolling out their winter line, and it’s 20 percent off,” said Jennifer Hobbs, Mesa Mall spokeswoman. “I’ve never seen 20 percent off a brand new collection. And the Max Raze had a 99-cent sale a couple weeks ago where all their sale products were 99 cents. They were trying to clear out their summer line and early back-to-school line to make way for winter. What teenager wouldn’t like something for 99 cents?”

To make sure you don’t miss a sale at a favorite shopping spot, Hobbs advises:

•  For the bigger department store sales, watch for the newspaper ads.

•  Dig through the sales racks.

•  Get on the e-mail list for your favorite retailers.

The latest statistics released this week from the National Retail Federation show 40 percent of people are starting holiday shopping before Halloween, 38.6 percent of shoppers are planning to shop in November, and 21.3 percent are waiting until December.

“I’ll probably wait another month or two, maybe the night before, to shop for Christmas,” said Ben Makin, 28, of Grand Junction, who had purchased a $50 pair of Nike shoes this week at no discount.

For Grand Junction, now may be a bit early to take advantage of holiday discounts.

“I’ve heard rumors that there are going to be a lot of door-buster sales after Thanksgiving,” Hobbs said.
Denise Gallob, 44, of Hotchkiss, pointed toward a 40 percent off sign at a store and said, “I personally think prices are going way up before you see a markdown.”

Sherry Reed, 54, of Grand Junction, said she thinks the local economy is doing well enough that stores don’t need to have the large markdowns yet.

“Stores have got to make their money, too, or they won’t stay in business,” Reed said.
Bardsley said she will start holiday shopping after Thanksgiving.

The downtown retailers are optimistic for the season, said Kathy Dirks, marketing and communications director for the Downtown Partnership.

“A lot of stores are either reporting an increase in sales, or those reporting the same amount of revenue find they have more customers coming in, but some are just spending less dollars,” Dirks said. “We’re all feeling really good about the holiday season. We expect the activity level to increase as the holiday season begins.”

Sales are increasing slightly at Target stores, officials are saying. The Christmas items have just started to come in.

At J.C. Penney’s, both the sales and the Christmas items are rolling in.

“We haven’t really felt what the other markets are feeling,” Hobbs said. “I see a few stores starting the sales earlier. I think there will be more sales than typical. Stores are definitely going to make Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) traditionally the busiest holiday.”


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