Tecumseh retailers do better than national trend on holiday sales

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A steady flow of customers, such as these pictured at Hacker Jewelers, shopped in Tecumseh during the post-holiday week. Local retailers called the holiday shopping season “good.” Photo by Mary Kay McPartlin.

National news stories report that American consumers spent cautiously this year, disappointing many retailers, but Tecumseh seems to have run counter to the “weak sales” trend this holiday season.

Nationally, sales of electronics, clothing, jewelry and home goods in the two months before Christmas increased a mere 0.7 percent compared with last year according to a MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse report. Analysts said that put sales below the healthy three to four percent growth they’d expected, and called it the “worst year-over-year performance since 2008.”

“I can’t say it’s been that way at all for us,” said Barb Bindus, co-owner of J-Bar Hobbies, 117 E. Chicago Blvd., in downtown Tecumseh. “I would say it was even better for us than last year.”

On Thursday, two days after Christmas, J-Bar had not experienced any returns, but customers were bringing in gift cards to be redeemed.

“A lot of people come in right after Christmas for that,” said Bindus. Customers were purchasing trains and more track, lighthouses and other goods.

“We’ve sold a lot of puzzles,” she said. “Also our wind-up toy replicas. People love them.”

Nanci Prezioso, who owns The Wild Iris at 101 W. Chicago Blvd., said sales were down in November, but December sales were up. She expected there would be some returns over the next few days. The research company MarketTools reports that 62 percent of returned gifts are clothing and shoes.

“Things come back largely due to sizing, but also because of a mis-match,” said Prezioso. “The gift just doesn’t match the person. It’s hard to buy some items for other people.”

The Wild Iris did well on its sale of gift cards this season.

“We had tremendous gift card sales in December, and that was probably up at least 40 percent over last year,” Prezioso said. She added that she also expected to see some of the gift card redemption to take place later. “Some people will wait until we do our sales in mid-January,” she said.

Hacker Jewelers, 110 E. Chicago, also reports a good holiday season.

“It may have been one of our best ever,” said Dan Hacker, owner, “and we’re very pleased with that. Hopefully we can ride that momentum into the New Year.” The store also has a pretty liberal return policy, and was expecting some exchanges this week. The MarketTools study noted that 10 percent of returned gifts are jewelry.

“Whenever we make a sale, we do it with the understanding that it could be coming back within a 30-day window,” said Hacker. Customers this week were largely those coming in for gift adjustments such as to rings, bracelets or watches.

“We also had strong gift certificate sales, which it normally is for us,” said Hacker. “It’s kind of a guy thing. I buy them for my wife because I know she likes to pick things out for herself.”

Boulevard Market, 102 E. Chicago Blvd., also reported things were on the positive side for the store this holiday season.

“We’re seeing pretty steady sales, and last year was a stellar year for us,” said co-owner Erika Aylward. “We’re seeing sales on par for after a holiday.”
Boulevard Market also will see a good return over the next few months as gift cards are redeemed.

“We’ve gone through gift cards like wildfire,” she said. “Sometimes people will buy a bottle of wine or something and then add a gift card to it.”

While nationally, holiday sales were a little on the dire side, Aylward credits the Tecumseh community with much of the success experienced by some of the unique shops in the area.

“I just can’t say enough about this community, how people are so willing to support our local businesses. I think that’s something special and different from the rest of the country,” said Aylward. “It’s interesting to see how people respond to us within our own community. It gives me such a good feeling to know it is that way here.”




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