Tim Leeds Havre Daily News email@example.com
Along with most stores in the nation reporting good sales over the weekend kickoff for holiday shopping, Havre stores said they too had a good crowd of customers, despite high gas prices and cost-of-living increases making some retailers in the nation expect less. “It’s just a good start,” said Scott Young, who owns and operates Norman’s Ranch and Sportswear with his wife, Kaye Young. “ Friday and Saturday were better than they have been for a couple of years.” Some stores like Herbergers, Radio Shack and Kmart in Havre had special promotions, opening hours earlier than normal with special deals for a limited time on Black Friday. The day after Thanksgiving is called Black Friday because traditionally stores have said that they don’t start making a profit go into the black until the start of holiday shopping. Michael Linder, Havre Kmart store manager, said people were waiting at the door when the store opened at 6“I put the number between 100 and 200 people,” Linder said, adding that some items with special sale prices went quickly. “Business was good,” Linder said. “We were very pleased with the weekend.” A corporation which tracks sales at more than 50,000 retail outlets said sales Friday and Saturday rose over last year’s total on post-Thanksgiving shopping by 7.2 percent, up to $16.4 billion in the nation. “This was a really good start there seems to be a lot of pent-up demand,” said Bill Martin, co-founder of ShopperTrac RCT Corp. Roberto Munguia, manager of the Havre Wal-Mart store, said sales in his store exceeded expectations, although the company didn’t know precisely what to expect because the Havre Wal-Mart opened after Christmas last year. “We had a great sales day but I have nothing to compare it to,” Mungia said. Mungia added that he saw something many retailers in the area have also noticed: many of the shoppers were down from Canada. “We actually had Canadians in the store Thursday night before the blitz event and they were back in the next day,” he said. Brian Jenkins, manager of the Havre Radio Shack, said his store has been seeing a lot of Canadians for some time, probably because the exchange rate for Canadian currency has moved in favor of the Canadians. In September, the U.S. Federal Reserve showed the Canadian dollar worth slightly more than a U.S. dollar. Jenkins said that for some time about 60 percent of his weekend shoppers have been Canadian. Young also said many of his shoppers on Friday and Saturday were Canadian. Joe Ross of Cavaliers for Men and Women said that store also saw good traffic on Friday and Saturday, which is normal for Cavaliers, he added. Many people who come back to town for the holiday also come in to shop there, he said. “It’s a time for us to see old friends,” Ross said. Ross said people seemed to be looking for specific items when they were in shopping, which also mirrors a national trend this year. “People seem to have pretty specific ideas on what they want for Christmas,” Ross said. Nationally, some people said that is because of concerns about expenses and the economy. Earl Lee, a mechanic from Live Oak, Fla., who was shopping in Tallahassee, said that he was planning on spending less this holiday season. “Gas prices, everything's so high,” he added. John Muller, of Clifton, N.J., who was standing outside Macy's Herald Square in Manhattan on Sunday, said he plans to spend only about $500 this year, half as much as a year ago, because of higher expenses and worries about the economy. This year, “we are mostly buying for the kids,” said Muller, who has two children, ages 3 and 7. Havre stores might have done better in selling some kinds of items than stores saw nationally. Most of the nation saw the biggest draw in electronics, with toys also a top-selling item. Apparel sales appeared to be mixed at mall-based clothing stores, though a cold weather snap helped spur sales of outerwear and other winter-related items. Linder said the Havre Kmart did see some good sales in apparel, also listing electronics, toys and seasonal items as the top sellers. Jenkins said Havre’s Radio Shack followed the trend with modern electronics, saying his store’s top sellers were modern entertainment items: the hottest items were portable audio and video items, MP3 players and the like, and the accessories for those items like memory cards, cases, and so on. The second-most popular items were probably digital imaging items like cameras and video recorders, he said. Information from The Associated Press was used in this story.a. m.