“It’s been a great season for us,” said Terry Greene, store manager of J.C. Penny in Rockingham.
Despite a still shaky economy, people continue to enter the doors of retailers and spend their money on Christmas gifts and some even said the volume of shoppers may be up.
“Right at the same as last year,” Greene said. “Maybe even a little better.”
Compared to last year, Steve Sablich, store manager of Big Lots in Rockingham, said business has been much better than 2008.
“Business has actually been very good,” Sablich said.
Thrift stores and second-hand stores in Richmond County say they have experienced a significant rise in sales.
“It’s been magnificent,” said Sandra Parker, store manager of the Christian Closet. “This is the best year we’ve had in a long, long time.”
She said since October, their business has more than tripled over last year’s sales and shows no sign of slowing.
“We’ve well surpassed our numbers from last year, especially from July on,” Parker said.
With thrift stores selling merchandise at much cheaper prices, shoppers from different economic tiers are turning off whatever pre-conceived notions they might have had and are finding the perfect gifts in otherwise unlikely places.
“I’m surprised by some of the people we’ve had in here,” Parker said.
Debbie Roberts, owner of the Yard Sale in Hamlet, says that she personally knows people who would have never considered thrift shopping before, especially at Christmas, who are doing so this year.
“I’m pleased with it this year,” Roberts said. “And I have talked to a lot of people who are doing more thrift shopping over retail shopping.”
As the final days wind down, last minute shoppers are crowding department stores and malls in search of gifts for the last few names on their lists. Retailers welcome those shoppers since they tend to stick closer to home.
The National Retail Federation reports that only 46 percent of shoppers across the country had completed their shopping as of Dec. 17.
“Retailers know the final lap counts the most and are planning to emphasize promotions and discounts to bring in last-minute shoppers,” said Tracy Mullin, president and CEO of NRF. “As Christmas Day creeps closer, retailers will be ready for an influx of procrastinators, from those who are checking the final names off their list to millions who haven’t even started shopping.”
Sablich noted that the last minute shoppers inject quite a bit of money in the last few days before Christmas.
“We always appreciate local customers keeping their business local,” Greene said.
Staff writer Bryan Stewart can be reached at 997-3111 ext. 15 or by e-mail at email@example.com.