Local, national retailers see strong holiday sales

Christmas has come and gone, but locals and visitors haven’t finished their holiday shopping just yet.

Many local and national retailers run substantial after-Christmas sales so people can take advantage of newly acquired wealth and gift cards or exchange presents.

The post-Christmas push likely will last through the weekend, Nittany Mall General Manager Lou Kanzleiter said.

“With (Christmas) being on a Wednesday this year, (Thursday) will be very busy, and it will probably carry into the weekend through Sunday,” he said.

It has been a successful run for many businesses so far, with reports of increased sales nationwide, and local retailers such as Webster’s Bookstore Cafe in downtown State College have seen similar bumps.

Especially in the days leading up to Christmas, Elaine Meder-Wilgus saw a large influx of people buying presents, and that rush carried well into Thursday.

She said the numbers are better than last year, with more sales across the spectrum from books to coffee. Meder-Wilgus added that with a resurgence in the interest in records and vinyl, those sales were up as well.

Ultimately, she said, an increased effort to get people to shop downtown may have helped to get people out.

“It was a great season for us,” she said. “You really feel this desire for people to shop locally.”

Unlike other businesses that might be more student-dependent, Meder-Wilgus expects to see a steady stream of faces through the new year.

She said New Year’s Eve is the single-biggest day of businesses for the shop. Staff pulls out board games and spins records, encouraging families to come out throughout the day.

Final numbers aren’t in yet for some of the bigger retailers, the mall’s Kanzleiter said.

He speculated that the local numbers could have been hurt by the large weekend snowstorm so close to Christmas because many potential shoppers decided not to brave the elements. But he said he saw a good number of people throughout the mall and hasn’t heard any negative feedback from the shops so far.

Nationwide, the numbers were good, with about a 3.5 percent increase over last year.

Online shopping was a major factor in the increase, with spending up 10 percent to $38.91 billion between Nov. 2 and Sunday.