Niles retailers report mostly positive holiday shopping season

Published 11:15 am Tuesday, December 28, 2004

By By AUSTIN NEILSON / Niles Daily Star
NILES - The holiday shopping season was very good here, say a number of Niles retailers.
The holiday season has always been popular for travel, family and gift giving. In recent decades, the gift giving has gained much of the spotlight as retailers try to cash in on holiday shopping.
The holiday shopping season traditionally kicks off the day after Thanksgiving, dubbed "Black Friday" for the amount of profits it brings to many businesses. Shoppers flood stores all over the nation looking to buy merchandise and take advantage of sales.
Southwest Michigan is no exception.
Although some retailers nationally saw disappointing figures, many in and around Niles had a significant upswing in business.
Carlson attributes much of the store's success to the addition of a grocery section and "supercenter" status.
Kevin Claire, manager of Lunker's in Edwardsburg agreed.
He said that Lunker's, too, experienced "holiday success."
Claire attributed some of the turnout to the store's television ads which promote its gift cards.
At the new Lowe's Home Improvement Center in Niles, results were also positive.
Manager Doug Marlow said sales were fine for the store being open only a short time, although he could not give any specifics.
However, the Christmas season did not bring joy to all area merchants.
At Radio Shack on S. 11th Street, sales did not reach expectations.
Hohman said the holiday rush is crucial for Radio Shack as approximately one third of its annual profits are Christmas related. He added the store had even been revamped and new staff hired in attempts to boost interest.
Hohman pointed to items such as "Texas Hold'em TV Poker" that were hot items at the store this season.
Kristyn Johnson, of Family Dollar at Riverfront Square in downtown Niles, said although sales were up, business was slower than anticipated.
The focus after Christmas usually shifts from giving to returning. Many consumers flock to stores after the holiday to return or exchange unwanted items, sometimes causing long lines that test patience. However, this year has turned out to be "quiet" for local stores.
According to Wal-Mart's Carlson, lines were not a problem at Wal-Mart.
Lunker's and Radio Shack also saw few returns.
Steve Hohman noted Radio Shack sees few returns as associate interaction allows the customer to get what they want the first time in the store.
Morgen Pittman, manager of Pamida in Dowagiac, also saw a lull in return activity.