With the Christmas shopping season starting to wind down, with Boxing Day sales on the cusp, local businesses are optimistic about the future.
Traditionally, the Christmas rush is a boon for local shop owners as residents bustle to find presents during the holidays.
Worries began in early 2009 as the word recession began to creep back into the daily lexicon. For some shop owners, they are holding their own this holiday season, while others have yet to see any marked improvement.
“We are close to being even with last year,” said Mark Notland, owner of Drumheller Sears. “The big thing is Boxing Day, that will be the determining factor that will show whether we are up or even.”
As the economy began to slow, Notland went into the Christmas season hoping to be on par with last year after a marked slowdown in the last part of 2009, and so far it appears his business is on track.
“If I could be even with last year, I’d be satisfied with that, just because of the conditions we have gone through,” he said. “We had a good last year. The slowdown didn’t start until about February.”
He said the lowest point came through the summer, but Christmas has helped to bring in customers. He knows others were not so lucky.
“There are some stores that are down 20 or 30 per cent. When you start losing a third of what you did from last year, that’s a pretty big slice,” said Notland.
He says part of the slowdown could have been exacerbated by the media.
“The news media forced a lot of this. Sure there were corrections that needed to be made, but a lot of people were starting to read that this may not be just a recession, but maybe we’d slip into a depression. That was a little extreme,” he said.
Despite the concerns
of a recession, Mel Cragg of Bill Cross Men’s Shop says he was expecting to be down, but has been pleasantly surprised. Business has been steady.
He says he had a pretty productive summer, supplemented by many out of town shoppers. He shad a steady stream of visitors to the valley shopping at his store .
Marylyn Faryna of Merle Norman, Marilyn’s Fashions and Esthetics and the Underground Galleria says she has yet to see a turn around.
‘I am down this year for sure,” said Faryna. “I haven’t done my numbers for December, but before December, I was definitely down. I know this month hasn’t brought me back up. This last week has been good, but before that, it wasn’t even like December.”
“I was expecting that December was going to pull me back up from the downward spiral.”
Despite this she says she is hopeful for the future.
"I’m optimistic, things are going to come around,” she said. “I am optimistic for next year, I think there are going to be good things.”