Local Retail Rebounds
With retail sales topping one trillion dollars in the U.S., it was the strongest holiday buying season since 2011. But did retailers here in the northwest suburbs see a bump too?
The temporarily bare shelves at The Woods in Maple Grove are a good thing.
“Sales this holiday was absolutely phenomenal,” said owner Dave Looney. “It was a great year and that was on top of a great year last year.”
Over at The Foursome in Plymouth there was a similar experience of holiday cheer.
“People were in a good mood. They seemed to be looking for the opportunity to spend money this season and so we were happy about that,” said Foursome owner Gordy Engel.
The store saw a variety of new customers, with people saying they’ve been driving by and wanted to see what merchandise was inside. Retailers also noticed people browsing online first, and then coming in the store to make a final decision.
“It’s actually probably easier to come in here than spend all night looking at your iPad for some sort of elusive gift that you’re not quite sure,” said Nicole Chose, who also works at Foursome. “You can literally just walk in here and get it, touch and feel it, or have someone help you pick it out.”
Part of a Larger Trend
Some of the reasons behind the strong retail push are, record high employment numbers, wage growth, favorable weather in Minnesota from Thanksgiving to Christmas.
“Consumers have really started spending again. I think we’ll see a 4-5 percent increase from November through the holidays,” says Bruce Nustad, President of the Minnesota Retailers Association. “Right now, low gas prices: great for retailers, great for spending,”
Nustad also said the name of the game isn’t about shipping, it’s about availability. Retailers who offer in-store pick-up and keep wanted items in stock are doing well.
“They’re going online, seeing what’s out there, seeing where you can get it, and they come in for the experience. And we’re finding this with a lot of the younger people too,” said Looney, from The Woods in Maple Grove. “One thing I can say I’ve found over the years, the gift industry is a good barometer of what the economy’s doing. In fact when things are going well for us it means its going to be good for a little while.”
Which is reason to hope that retail in 2019 will be merry and bright.