Holiday shopping season picking up in Red Deer

With 18 shopping days left until Christmas, Red Deer businesses are cautiously optimistic about this season’s retail sales.

Angela King, manager at Sophie’s Treats in Parkland Mall said business is slow, but it’s starting to pick up.

Brittani Dobirstein, manager at Tip Top Tailors, said she has seen early signs, which makes her hopeful for big sales this Christmas season.

She said the store had higher sales this Black Friday weekend than it did last year.

Dobirstein believes the economy is picking up because she sees it at the mall, which wasn’t the case last year. She said foot traffic around the mall is picking up.

Dobirstein said going to stores versus online shopping helps customers with sizing, and the personal customer service experience.

“Sometimes you need a little bit of one-on-one help,” she said.

Dobirstein also reminds shoppers when they buy local, they not only help the local economy, but they save on shipping fees.

Robin Bobocel, CEO at Red Deer and District Chamber of Commerce, said consumers are readjusting to the economy, and they are more robust with their spending this year. Businesses are cautiously optimistic, going into the holiday season, he said.

Noting the latest September 2016 to September 2017 retail sales numbers by Statistics Canada listed per province, he said, businesses have good reasons to be enthusiastic and optimistic going into this year’s holiday season.

The numbers show Alberta has a 7.6 per cent change within a year, putting the province in third place — after New Brunswick at 10.9 per cent and B.C. at 9.6 per cent.

“It signals a rebound in the economy,” said Bobocel.

He, however, is cautious about the $30/tonne carbon levy in the new year and increased minimum wage. He said those costs will trickle down and be passed on to consumers.

“My conclusion would be it’s cheaper to shop now than it would be in the new year,” he said.

Rosie Frew, manager at Suzanne’s at Parkland Mall, is not convinced the economy has turned around. She said her sales numbers were worse this year than last year.

Frew said the store is a high-end destination store with Canadian clothing, which customers won’t find online. She said that could be why shopping there would be considered a “luxury thing” to do, which is hard during a downturn.

Over at Bower Place, Tammy Sutter, service manager at Chatters Hair Salon, said she hasn’t seen an increase in sales. She said although shopping local would mean supporting local businesses, she believes shoppers like to shop online because it’s convenient. She said foot traffic is about the same in the mall as it was last year.

Jared Priegnitz, retail manager at Journeys at the Bower mall, said sales have been going up in the past couple weeks with more people out and about shopping. While he wasn’t at the store last year, he has seen the sales numbers and they show a growth this year.

“Everything is continuously growing up — our sales as well as traffic,” he said.

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