Local businesses expect high turnout in Christmas sales
SALT LAKE CITY — As business owners and shoppers prepare for Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, retail spending has been surprisingly strong this quarter.
Bill and Diane Sartain have owned the Tutoring Toy Store for more than 20 years in Foothill Village, and they could use a good holiday season. Despite mixed signals in the economy, the Sartains see good signs in their sales.
“I’m fairly optimistic,” Bill Sartain said. “We are off to a good start for the fourth quarter, and that’s always an encouraging sign.”
Despite the impacts of inflation, customers are shopping and their numbers are up. But, the last two years were rough, Sartain explained.
They closed for more than three months during the pandemic.
“We have not totally recovered from that,” the toy store owner said. “But, we see that we are well on the way. We’re better than we were last year, for instance. So that’s why we’re optimistic.”
According to the US Commerce Department, retail sales rose 1.3% nationally in October, exceeding expectations. The National Retail Federation predicts retail sales 6 to 8% higher than last year, while another survey shows Americans plan to spend more on gifts than they have in the last three years.
“People feel better about the economy,” said Robert Spendlove, chief economist for Zions Bank. “They feel a little bit better about how things are doing. It’s still a lot lower than pre-pandemic. But it is coming up.”
The economist points out that inflation is still way too high, but not as high as it was. If gas prices continue to decline, he said, that will continue to ease inflation.
“Obviously, inflation is affecting all of us,” said Alejandro Puy, who has already started his holiday shopping. “But, I budgeted money for this, and some presents don’t have to be expensive to be nice and to be thoughtful.”
Susan Matthews was already out Christmas shopping with her grandson and said she usually gets started sooner. She’s not cutting back on gifts this year.
“I think it’s been a rough year, and I think it’s important to go out and still shop and show our kids that Christmas is still there and the season is still here for a reason, and it’s still time to give,” she said.
Typically, in the three weeks before Christmas, the toy store does more business in one day than they do in a week the rest of the year. Local businesses are hoping for a lot of those days.
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