Christmas shopping season looked good

Official numbers have yet to be issued, but anecdotal evidence suggests the 2013 holiday shopping season was a good one for local retailers.

Official numbers have yet to be issued, but anecdotal evidence suggests the 2013 holiday shopping season was a good one for local retailers.

“I think it was a great Christmas season,” said Dan Hachey, general manager of Parkland Mall.

“From talking to retailers and from what we’ve seen so far, we’re probably up about two per cent in sales.”

Hachey didn’t think there were more shoppers in his mall this December, with snowy conditions early in the month probably deterring some. But he noted a positive attitude among consumers this year.

“I think the economy is good.”

Dallas Hand, retail manager at Bower Place Shopping Centre, also thought the 2013 holiday shopping season was a good one. He couldn’t cite sales figures, but noted that traffic volumes and gift card sales were high.

“I know from a guest services perspective, because I manage that aspect, it was a better year than last year.”

Amanda Gould, executive director of the Red Deer Downtown Business Association, also felt this holiday retail season was strong.

“The businesses I have spoken with did most certainly see an increase over the Christmas period,” she said.

Gould was pleased with the success of the Dec. 7 North Pole Stroll, which her association organized in conjunction with downtown stores.

Statistics Canada hasn’t released data about consumer spending during November or December. But Alberta stores rang in a record $6.22 billion in sales in October, a 6.6 per cent improvement from a year earlier. Nationally, the year-over-year increase in retail sales was three per cent.

Todd Hirsch, chief economist with ATB Financial, said at the time that the numbers were a positive indication of what the Christmas shopping season would be like. He attributed the spending surge to a steady inflow of people to Alberta and the province’s strong economy.

“With average weekly wages still growing by between three and five per cent annually, Alberta shoppers are feeling confident about their jobs and their future income potential,” Hirsch wrote in his daily economic commentary, The Owl.

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