Some Retailers Surprised By Sales During Holidays

BERLIN – Dire predictions of drastically low sales during the 2008 holiday shopping season appear to not be coming true for local retailers, with several reporting solid sales.

Business at the Harry and David store at the Ocean City Factory Outlets is as strong as ever, said store manager Bonnie Oliverio.

“Things are going great. It is our season,” Oliverio said. “It was slower than usual getting started, but it’s doing fine now. We’re holding our own.”

The store did two times as much business one day last weekend as it did on the same day last year, and business is increasing as the Christmas holiday approaches, Oliverio said.

Victorian Charm owner Debbie Frene said business in Berlin has been good for her store.

“We’ve done really well. There’s a lot of traffic,” said Frene. “People still have to buy Christmas presents. I don’t know what it’ll be like after the first of the year.”

Others are having a more mixed season.

“It’s hit or miss. Some days are better than others,” said Nicole Hazzard, a supervisor at Carter for Kids clothing store at the outlets. “Black Friday was amazing. We couldn’t have asked for better business. All in all I think it’s going well.”

“It’s been all right. We’re down compared to last year,” said Bernell Fisher, a keyholder at Nautica clothing store in the outlets.

Business has picked up slightly in the last few days, but not much, said Fisher.

“It’s a little slower than last year but we’re not having as drastic a reduction as some companies are having,” said Robin Taylor, manager of Dress Barn at the outlets.

In Berlin, traffic appears high on the weekends in particular with sales increasing as the holiday approached, according to one merchant.

“It’s certainly down a little bit from last year, but you have to expect that in these times. We’re happy with where we are,” said Judy Fisher, co-owner of J. J. Fish Studio and Fine Crafts Gallery in Berlin. “We’re seeing less people. They’re not spending less.”

Many stores are offering more sales to attract customers. For example, the normal price for Harry and David signature pears has been reduced, Oliverio said, and the store is giving out substantial coupons. “Our company is reacting to the economy and trying to make things easier for our customers,” said Oliverio.

“We are running constant sales. We’re constantly giving out coupons,” said Taylor. “That’s helping a little bit.”