The national report for this first holiday shopping weekend presented a rather bleak picture.
According to The Associated Press, record crowds hit the stores but spent less than last year. And this, despite Thanksgiving Day store openings and heavy advertising.
A record 141 million shoppers were expected over the four-day period ending Sunday, up from last year’s 137 million. But spending fell an estimated 2.9 percent to $57.4 billion.
Those national stories are always such a downer, though. And we suspect they don’t necessarily represent what goes on in the smaller communities like ours.
We don’t have the wherewithal to conduct in-depth economic analysis for the South Coast region. But we do know what we’ve heard anecdotally, and it’s not so down beat.
Take Katrina Christensen of Katrina Kathleen’s home décor in downtown Coos Bay, for example.
“This was a great weekend, really great,” Christensen said Monday afternoon. “People were out to shop and shop specifically small businesses. I think the support was great.”
Christensen’s enthusiasm was echoed by Terry Pittenger, owner of YourSpace interior design in North Bend.
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Pittenger didn’t see a lot of new customers to her shop over the weekend, but her current customers dropped by to show support and she feels that more locals are starting to shake off the economic depression that’s bedeviled so many of us recently.
“I think we need to band together as small businesses to get the word out,” Pittenger said. “We just need to let people know what kinds of things are available right here in town.”
Bandon Mercantile owner Beth Wood says she also did well over this first holiday shopping weekend. And she saw new faces joining her regular clientele.
“I think it’s just that the economy’s a little better; people are feeling a bit more confident,” Wood said.
Now we don’t mean to imply that business was booming all over; far from it. Other businesses we talked to did mediocre; others said there were fewer customers than last year.
To those business owners we say: Hang in there. Don’t get discouraged.
And to you holiday shoppers we say: Get out of the vehicle and walk the sidewalks. You never know what you’ll find in a store window if you just slow down.