Pam Gabriel, owner of Sweet Gourmet in Tyler, said given current economic conditions, she was unsure of what to expect out of the 2012 Christmas season.
“Anytime it’s an election year, it can be up or down — you never know,” she said. “We were pleasantly surprised.”
She said the numbers held close to 2011, but spending trends were slightly different. She said more people bought gift cards this year and several of their corporate accounts switched from sending gifts at Christmas to sending them around Thanksgiving.
“I think no matter what their budget was, I think they were getting out and shopping,” Ms. Gabriel said. “Our center here in the French Quarter was packed from Thanksgiving day with heavy, heavy Christmas shopping before Thanksgiving.”
Katie Craddock, owner of Katie’s in Tyler, said their final holiday numbers will not be compiled until December 31, but she believes they will reflect a good year.
“The season was really, really good,” she said. “It’s been tough this year but the season was really good. We are pleased.”
Mrs. Craddock said stores were a little slow on Wednesday due to icy weather, and associates took the time to restock shelves so the stores will be ready for customers who received gift cards for Christmas.
“We do sell a lot of gift cards,” she said. “The stock never runs low here, that’s the good thing. We restocked on Christmas Eve, and we are restocking now.”
Melissa Menard, sales associate and cashier for Racquet and Jog, said this year’s sales did not start picking up until the weather changed, but they caught up to last year.
“I think we did good,” Ms. Menard added. “We were right up with last year, lots of sales. We didn’t get as much as last year, but we were right up where we were.”
Amy Calleja, third key with Baskins in Tyler, said the store was busy Wednesday with shoppers exchanging boot sizes and styles.
Ms. Calleja said the store received a large number of custom orders this year and the store workers were expecting a good year.
“I believe we did a little better than last year,” she said. “I know times are tough but people … gave some good stuff this year.”
Looking ahead for next year, business owners said they were closely watching the turnout of the “fiscal cliff” negotiations in Washington, which is a combination of possible federal spending cuts, expiring social security tax cuts and changes to unemployment benefits.
“I worry all the time,” Ms. Gabriel said. “As a shop owner that is part of it. I think if you stop worrying, you are not going to be in business long. It concerns me, but I’m a positive thinker, so I think it will all get worked out.”
Mrs. Craddock said it will be interesting to see what 2013 will bring.
“We are sort of on guard, and we are waiting to see what happens to all of us,” she said. “We have been in business for 31 years. I don’t know if (it) will be a stranger year than any other. It could be, but we are just going to try to ride it out.”