Merchants report brisk sales over holiday

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Business Today

POPLAR BLUFF -- Like many of the major retailers nationwide, local stores got a strong start during the first weekend of Christmas holiday shopping.

"It was awesome," said Sam Tucker, manager at Hastings. "We're up 20 percent over last year. That's fueled largely in part by video games and DVD sales but all departments are up. It was across the board."

Tucker said that Hastings expects to do well even in a slack economy because many of the items it offers are under $20.

"We offer a wide variety of smaller gifts," Tucker said. "That's part of the reason why we're seeing an increase over last year. It was a good weekend."

Tucker said he expects overall sales to be about 10 percent over last year.

Clothing, toys and tools flew out of the doors at Orscheln, according to manager Amanda Frieling.

"It went really, really well for us," she said. "We haven't got numbers to compare them to, but I think we did at least 10-12 percent compared to last year. Our specials went over real well."

Whitworth's Gift Chest Jewelers had its Christmas kickoff earlier than the recent weekend, said co-owner Steve Whitworth, who said he was very pleased with the results.

"It was great," he said. "The store had a lot of traffic. We've already done exceedingly well. We had a near record November."

This November, he said, brought in about 33 percent more than last November.

"We were disappointed at last year, but pleased with this year," he said. "We have big, big sales. We've got the merchandise, we've got the promotions, we've got the flyers. We're expecting to go a good 20 percent over last year."

Hot this year at Whitworth's are the three-diamond, past-present-future settings, and "diamonds, diamonds, diamonds," said Whitworth.

This year is Home Depot's first year in Poplar Bluff, and it is so far a good one, said Jason Craig, assistant manager.

"We did better than we expected to do," he said.

Home Depot doesn't have a local comparison to make to last year, but Craig said that the local store projects sales of $1.2 million in December.

Flying out of the store, he said, are "any tools and any of our hardware items. We're doing pretty well."

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