Mall traffic steady on last weekend before Christmas

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SUMMERSIDE — There are as many Christmas shopping styles as there are people to ask, but businesses seem to be managing them all in timely fashion.

Coles Bookstore in the County Fair Mall was busy all day Saturday as shoppers tried to avoid the weekend storm forecast.

This weekend was the last before Christmas, leaving stores busy and shoppers trying to finish getting everything on their lists.

Lloyd Gaudet was shopping for his stepdaughter and daughter-in-law, but admitted that his wife handled the rush.

“Men always have it done,” he chuckled, though that often means gift cards purchased at one stop.

Ashley O’Brien was pleased with her efforts, but said it never seems quite finished when one has a large group to shop for.

“I’m doing great, just picking up some odds and ends,” she claimed.

With 30 guests expected for Christmas, and intending that everyone will get something, she has been working on her list since October. She knows, however, that one always finds a little extra to pick up, especially if it is a cute item.

“You don’t realize how many (gifts) are under there,” at the end, added O’Brien.

Judy Moase of Travellers Rest had just picked up some magazines for kids, but was also planning for next year by picking up some Christmas cards.

Some shoppers are restricted by income and manage within limited budgets.

One teenage boy did his shopping at an automated toy kiosk, hoping to get a plush bear favoured by a girl he likes. After mixed results on the first try, getting two items but not the intended prize, he made one further attempt without success. Accepting partial defeat, he decided to give her the gifts anyway.

Rebecca MacLean was shopping with her mother, Mary Johnston, and both said that spending time together was the most important activity of the holiday.

Johnston estimated her seasonal spending at about $1,200. MacLean hadn’t tallied up her spending, having only a nine-year-old to think about.

Krista Bulger and her children, Landon, 7, and Madelyn, 10, were just finishing up a three-hour spree on Saturday. The mother admitted she could keep buying, but deals mostly with debit and cash, which impose limits.

Bulger had used a credit card, but only for online items that weren’t available locally.

Ken Smith, who was strolling the mall with wife, Robin, and children Clarity and Kirsten, was pleased to have had his shopping done for three weeks.

He does a lot of regional travel for his company, and their tradition is for him to take time off, turn the phone off and invest in his family relationships. Their appearance at the mall was only to see Santa and get groceries.

Business following Christmas trend

 

Coles Bookstore had a great season, according to manager Kaethe Mueller, who was happy to see that so many people were shopping locally.

The biggest concern was the effect of the loss of Zellers, a nearby anchor tenant. Traffic diminished as much as 76 per cent, but the trend has been upward since August.

The store has been meeting its budget targets this year, and Mueller has witnessed the traditional pre-Christmas upswing in the past three weeks.

“We are sticking around for awhile,” she promised.

Traffic at The Style hair salon has picked up as well, said manager Jason Arsenault, especially since a lot of his holiday sales are for product and styling appliances.

“Our busiest month is December. Christmas makes a difference, with getting ready for staff parties, gatherings and holidays.”

Arsenault also appreciates the occasions to catch up with clients who have moved away and are only returning to visit.

Bill MacGregor, franchisee for the Bulk Barn in the Granvillle St. Plaza opposite the indoor mall, has noted steady business the past few weeks, with a slight upward trend though the weather has played havoc.

His biggest concern is selling out of some seasonal items, thanks to underestimated demand. Other seasonal products, like nuts, are plentiful because rising cost has lessened demand.

MacGregor speculated that the price adjustment is due to uses other than fresh, whole nut treats biting into supply.

Source for Sports manager Mitch Townsend noted it has been busier than last year.

“We are selling a lot of hockey gear” such as hats and jerseys, he said, attributing the increase to the fact that the professional league is not locked out this year. 

Snowshoes and jackets are also popular items because of early snow and the accompanying cold.

That trend has benefitted some university students home for the holidays.

“We had seven staff on today, rather than five,” he noted, happy to be able to offer the hours to the student staff.

Organizations: Zellers, The Style

Geographic location: Travellers Rest

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