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December 28, 2010 Published in 2010 In Review, Business, Top Stories

Holiday Sales Up In Alexandria, Nationally

Alexandria shoppers. (Courtesy Photo)

Like their national counterparts, Alexandria businesses had a very merry Christmas, with sales up from last year.

Lamont Brown is the sales manager for Comfort One Shoes, 201 King Street, in Old Town. The European comfort shoe company has 23 stores in Virginia, Maryland and DC. “We had a pretty good increase and I think we’re going to end up defeating last year. Overall, with the holidays, we did very well, which is surprising for this area. In Old Town, there’s people shopping with so many other retailers in the area, and business has really slowed down over prior years. With this type of shoe store, since we deal with foot health, we generally need the foot here to assess it,” he said. “Over the last five weeks, on average, we had a 15% increase over last year, dating back to Black Friday. People are still coming in, due in large part to our end-of-season clearance sale, where we take anywhere from 30-50% off the original price.”

Vicki Forness is President of B & C Jewelers, 3652 King Street. “Sales were fantastic. I don’t have all the figures, but we were at least 10% up over last year. Diamond jewelry and Pandora seems to be our best sellers this year. Pandora is silver lined with colored stones, and it’s a huge line of relatively priced items from $25 to $500, which is a good range for almost everyone and appeals to any generation and isn’t age specific,” she said. “It’s been a great season. The weather has held up, and other than it being cold, we’re happy.”

Nationwide, from November 5, 2010, through December 24, 2010, there was an overall season-over-season growth of 5.5% ex-auto as consumer spending continued to show progress compared to the same period in 2009. Sales were up in the ecommerce, apparel, electronics, jewelry, luxury and ex-jewelry categories, according to MasterCard Advisors’ SpendingPulse, a macroeconomic report tracking national retail and services sales.

“If last year’s holiday story was about gaining some stability, this year’s is about getting back to growth,” said Michael McNamara, vice president of research and analysis for SpendingPulse. “The 2010 holiday period is categorized by strong year-over-year growth in apparel and continued strength in ecommerce. We also saw a noticeable return in spending in the larger ticket items, as exemplified by the solid growth in jewelry, luxury and even the furniture category.”

Once again, ecommerce was the big winner this year, with seasonal sales up 15.4%. Apparel sales grew 11.2% over the 2009 holiday season. Menswear reached double-digit growth weighing in at 10.5% year-over-year. Women’s apparel grew 5.6%, making for one of its best periods of growth since 2008. The apparel category was down by 0.4% during the 2009 season.

“The cold weather across much of the country in December appeared to be a positive for the apparel sector. While there was some disruptive weather in the Midwest and the West Coast towards the end of the season, the conditions did not seem to negatively impact the national sales momentum. In some cases the weather may have also benefited the eCommerce channel,” McNamara said.

Electronic sales grew 1.2% season-to-season. The flat-to-modest growth rates may be due to a decline in television prices, making it difficult for the sector to produce significant year-over-year growth.

Jewelry and luxury ex-jewelry improved during the 2010 season. After a mild start, jewelry posted several weekly year-over-year increases and ended the season up 8.4%. Luxury ex-jewelry started the season with a solid gain and then picked up steam, ending with a respectable season-to-season growth of 6.7%.