Local shoppers buck national trends

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Once again Colorado shoppers are bucking national trends and local retailers are smiling all the way to the bank.

November’s sales tax receipts seem to have predicted the holiday shopping pattern retailers are seeing so far this season.

Colorado Springs sales and use tax receipts for November, which reflect October activity, are up 7.8%. Retailers are predicting stronger Christmas sales than they saw last year, which ended up being higher than the national average. Nationally retail sales were off by 0.4% in November, according to a Commerce Department report.

Big winners and big losers are becoming apparent as the shopping season progresses.

Analysts say there might be a shortage of clothing as apparel sales have risen for the first time in years. Sales of clothing rose 13.8% in October, based on local tax collections. Hot items include Space Jam, 101 Dalmatians, and Toy Story apparel as well as windsuits and anything made with polar fleece. And while last year retailers expected that snow storms close to Christmas would increase sales of snow boots, sweaters, and coats, the sales didn’t materialize.

On the other hand consumers seem to have their fill of electronics nationwide. Locally, sales tax from electronics outlets such as Best Buy and Circuit City were down 7.2% in October.

A manager for Circuit City — a newcomer to the local market in September 95 — said sales have been steady if not a little down from last Christmas.

He said Digital Satellite Systems as well as small electronics such as boom boxes, keyboards, and phones are the hottest items going out of the door. Computers, the hot item for Christmas 1995, are still selling well but not as well as last year, he said.

There is still hope for retailers that feel they are getting less than their share of the pumpkin pie. There is one more weekend before Christmas.

The last 10 days before Christmas have replaced the Thanksgiving weekend as the traditional biggest shopping days of the holiday season. Analysts say this is because more and more families function with two incomes, making them too busy to shop early.