June 29, 2016

Mostly sunny

Last-minute shoppers swamp stores

’Twas the night before Christmas
and all through the store,
the shoppers were scurrying
and buying galore.

Christmas Eve afternoon on North Court Street in Medina, and parking lots along the retail strip are jammed as shoppers hurried to make a few last-minute purchases.Jamie Hillwig, of Chippewa Lake, had all his Christmas shopping done, but his 9-year-old son Bodie wanted to pick out a Christmas card for his mother at Target.

Hillwig said he spent about the same amount as last year on Christmas gifts. His basket was piled with breakfast food for Christmas Day.

Other Target shoppers told a different story.Kathy Stupar, a first-grade teacher at Northrop Elementary School, said she found herself spending more on fewer items, such as electronics, as her children grow up.

She had most of her Christmas shopping done, she said, except for a few stocking stuffers.In Medina’s historic district, things were a little quieter. Some stores were already closed for the holiday.Jamie Kulig, a greeting card designer who lives in Kansas City, was buying strands of multicolored beads at the Potomac Bead Co.

Kulig said the beads were for a Christmas Day craft project for her mother. She said she spent less on Christmas gifts this year than usual. Kulig said she felt the Black Friday deals weren’t supported by the hype.

“I’m seeing more value in handmade things and spending time together,” she said.Across the nation, the early data indicates retailers are seeing a less-than-stellar Christmas shopping season.

After a strong Black Friday weekend, the four-day weekend that starts on Thanksgiving, when sales rose 2.7 percent, the lull that usually follows has been even more pronounced.

Sales fell 4.3 percent for the week ended Dec. 15, according to the latest figures from ShopperTrak, which counts foot traffic and its own proprietary sales numbers from 40,000 retail outlets across the country.

On Wednesday, ShopperTrak cut its forecast for holiday spending down to 2.5 percent growth to $257.7 billion, from prior expectations of a 3.3 percent rise.

Online, sales rose just 8.4 percent to $48 billion from Oct. 28 through Saturday, according to a measure by MasterCard Advisors’ SpendingPulse.

That is below the online sales growth of between 15 to 17 percent seen in the prior 18-month period, according to the data service, which tracks all spending across all forms of payment, including cash.At the malls, overall promotions were up 2 to 3 percent from last year heading into the pre-Christmas weekend, after being down 5 percent earlier in the season, according to BMO Capital Markets sales rack index, which tracks the depth and breadth of discounts.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Contact reporter Kiera Manion-Fisher at (330) 721-4049 or kfischer@medina-gazette.com.