Holiday sales ho-hum along
Linda Johnson (left), owner of Village True Value Hardware, talks with customer Meg Galin of La Grange about the features on different snow blowers at the shop. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 11, 2013 6:10AM
LA GRANGE — Holiday sales in 2012 held steady from a year ago or were up slightly, area merchants report.
“We were pretty much the same as last year, or up just a smidge,” said Jean Kuhn, owner of Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory in La Grange. “People are still pretty cautious with the economy.”
To grow her business, Kuhn turned to increasing corporate sales of holiday gifts, which paid off with an overall 5 percent growth in sales.
David Casey, owner of Casey’s Market in Western Springs agreed consumers are cautious.
“We didn’t really see any spike in our sales,” Casey said. “In fact, the last couple of years with the economy the way it is, it’s just been flat.”
When the economy tanked in 2007 or so, sales of meat, deli and gourmet items dipped by 8 and 9 percent the following two years, but leveled off in 2010 and 2011.
“Even in the meat business we are not recession proof,” he said. “But we’re flattered people still come back to see us for their specialty needs, and we have the tried-and-true customers who come in week in and week out all year long.”
Mary Ann Doehring, who owns Mary Ann’s Shoppe, also said sales of clothes and accessories were about the same this season as last year.
“It seemed to be pretty steady, though nothing to write home about,” Doehring said. “People were a little bit hesitant.”
Linda Johnson, who owns the Village True Value Hardware store in Western Springs, reported similar results.
“We’re blessed to have a community that shops local, and that’s a big plus,” Johnson said.
The lack of snow, which otherwise spurs sales of shovels, snow blowers and salt, may have been offset by milder temperatures leading to a longer decorating season and sales of related items, she said.
One novelty item that sold out and made spirits bright was a singing soap dispenser.
“It was new this year. You push the top down and when it’s locked in place, it plays Christmas tunes,” Johnson said. “You turn it another way, and soap comes out.”
Nancy Cummings, executive director of the LaGrange Business Association, said members’ feedback from at the start of the holiday season was very favorable, though results aren’t in through the end of the year.
“We had a sense early on that things were going really well, from Small Business Saturday right after Thanksgiving to the Hometown Holiday Dec. 1,” Cummings said. “A lot of merchants took advantage of bounce-back coupons, incentives to get customers in to shop at a later time.”