Local malls bucking holiday sales trends

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While department stores and malls across the nation reported dismal holiday sales over the Thanksgiving weekend, local malls say their sales increased dramatically over their projected goals.
At The Citadel Mall in Colorado Springs, stores had very happy holiday sales the first week of the shopping season, said Marketing Manager Diane Loschen.
“Most of our stores had sales increases over last year of anywhere from 5 percent to 102 percent,” she said.
Loschen credits The Citadel’s performance to new holiday decorations and new-to-market stores, such as Steve and Barry’s, Sportsman’s Warehouse and Hollister’s.
“We had a really great season so far, and we fully expect it to continue. The stores are performing above what we expected,” she said. “We’re in a great position.”
Malls in the rest of the country were not so lucky. Nationwide, mall sales fell 0.9 percent, according to ShopperTrak, which measured purchases at 45,000 mall-based retailers.
Analysts contend that specialty retailers, such as The Gap, could have a tough holiday season. The sales results could also lead to deeper discounts for shoppers, as chains need to increase sales in the weeks before Christmas.
According to the National Retail Federation, sales were up during the long holiday weekend, with more shoppers spending more money than last year. But most people visited discount chains, such as Wal-Mart, to get the best deals, with more than 60.7 percent of consumers shopping at the discounters. Only 41.2 percent of consumers shopped at specialty stores, and 47 percent shopped in department stores.
Loschen said malls that fail to react to changes in consumer purchases will see a difference in their sales.
“There’s no question that traditional shopping malls have to get creative,” she said. “They have to reinvent themselves with re-merchandising or they will become dinosaurs. You have to re-invent, release space as newer stores come on the market. Changing stores inside the mall keeps the experience dynamic. It’s one of the reasons for our success.”
In today’s retail environment, department stores and malls must compete not only with deep discounts from big box retailers; they also have to compete with Web retailers.
According to the NRF and shop.org, Internet sales are up more than 22 percent compared to last year. Combined with early morning deals for $350 laptops and $175 flat-screen televisions, competition for the customer’s dollars is strong.
Jill Lace, marketing manager of Chapel Hills Mall, said that while it’s still early in the Christmas season, the mall had a busy first weekend in December, despite a snowy Saturday.
“We’re doing really well,” she said. “Traffic was up … and sales are up slightly. We anticipate getting busier – typically, our busiest day is the Saturday before Christmas.”
Lace said that people are shopping more at discount stores and big box retailers, but Chapel Hills has an edge – K-Mart is one of the anchors in the mall and draws shoppers into other stores.
“I think Chapel Hills has a good retail base,” she said. “Stores are offering great sales to get people into the store. We have a good combination here.”
Amy.Gillentine@csbj.com