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Front Page » November 29, 2007 » The business journal » The business of Christmas
Published 2,434 days ago

The business of Christmas


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By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate publisher

What people plan to do with their money this holiday season

People love to shop whether it be in person or on-line. Many local residents have mixed feelings about where to shop.

What's a business to do?

As most retailers count on 25 to 50 percent of their yearly business coming from holiday shopping, the whim of the buying public weighs heavy on merchants.

And with gas prices up, some layoffs going on in local industries, and a generally bad economy outside the area, some people are scared to spend money,

But others are not.

It is truly a mixed bag when talking with residents who want to provide a nice Christmas for those they love and care about.

"I don't know how much I will be spending," said Price resident Lori Brassaw. "I think I will concentrate on buying smarter this year though."

That, in a nutshell is what many residents of the Carbon County area said when asked about their spending habits this year and where they will put their money on holiday gifts.

"I am spending less just because I have less money to spend this year," said Kathy Murray. "Last year in the post holiday sales I bought a lot of stuff for this year, to save money on gifts."

Saving money is a big deal to most residents; few are planning to shop at Saks Fifth Avenue or Gucci's. But then some say local shopping is also not in their main purchasing plans either.

"I will probably be spending less because I am not sure what to pick out as gifts this year," said Ginger Basso. "It's hard to figure out what to buy. I will be going over to Provo one of these weekends to look around."

But it appears by talking to many residents, local business have much more to worry about than the usual bugaboo of stores along the Wasatch Front or in Grand Junction. The on-line connection is getting bigger and bigger for a lot of people.

"I think I have bought about 75 percent of the gifts I have purchased online," said Carrie Icard. "You can get anything you want online and there are even search engines which give you ideas of what gifts to buy if you aren't sure what a person could use."

In fact, many people the Sun Advocate talked with found that online purchases made sense to them.

"The web is a factor because of the selection that is available and the aggravation of standing in lines in stores," stated Brassaw. "And that is true whether you travel to Salt Lake or stay in Price to shop."

One resident said that service is a big factor in buying on-line. Wanting to remain anonymous she stated that the service many stores in the area provide is not up to what she thinks it should be. She related a story concerning her husband standing in line at a local store a couple of years ago while another man in front of him tried to take care of a problem he had with a product. The young man at the cash register told the man with the problem that "you need us more than we need you."

Her husband had a arm full of merchandise and when he heard that he put it on the floor and left the store.

Earlier this year, Carbon County's economic development department reported that the Secret Shopper program (which is part of the Business Expansion and Retention program) showed that one of the complaints the shoppers encountered was with service of some businesses. The department sent out letters to all the businesses that had registered a service complaint from the program and hardly any responded back to the letter, either with an acknowledgement or a question about the complaint.

But others in the community say the local businesses will get the bulk of their actual purchases.

"I don't know what I will be spending yet, it depends a lot on what happens with the family this year," said Sheri Davis. "But I know most of the things I buy will come from local stores. I will not be buying much online."

A great deal was made this past week of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Sales were up a little in many places on the day after Thanksgiving, while the first of the week saw some on-line businesses set records while others didn't do as well as they thought they would. Two online suppliers, Overstock.com and Victoria's Secret, were inundated with hits, so much so that they had real problems technically dealing with the volume.

But much of what is bought online in the Carbon County area are things that are not offered here.

"I will be spending more on my daughter this year because she is getting older and wants more expensive stuff," said Kelly Wilkinson. "Everything has gone high tech it seems. But most of the things that I buy online I can't get locally."

Others say the spending will be limited, regardless of the new things available or the rise in prices.

"I will spend about the same this year," said Linda Thayn. "When I was growing up we had limits on what we would get and we have to have a limit today as well. There are just too many people to buy for."

Brassaw pointed out that she will be buying more for the needs of her family than for the wants.

"The only one getting spoiled this year is our new dog," she said. "I will be spending money on her."


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