Mall has a happy post-holiday

"More shoppers than ever before selected gift certificates over the frowns and polite thank-yous attached to the right sweater in the wrong size or color this year. Kitsap Mall General Manager Dan Engelhard happily reported a 32 percent increase in gift certificate sales over last year – and that’s just for the mall. Individual stores like the Bon Marché sold their own gift certificates in spades.The high gift certificate sales plus the traditional returns and post-Christmas sales translated into crowds at the mall and busy cash registers.“All indications are we had a great weekend,” Engelhard said about the Boxing Day rush. “We are, through Sunday, dead even with the month (compared to last year). We had a slight (0.2 percent) increase.”The low percentage jump hardly sounds like reason to celebrate until it’s married up with another perception: people are buying more.“After Christmas has become almost as important as before,” Engelhard said. “Most of our retailers are showing sale increases. It appears that there is a trend that people are purchasing more. ... The merchants are reporting increases in sales that are exceeding the traffic increase.”The higher foot traffic and per person sales numbers continue a trend started in November, when Kitsap Mall administrators announced the same break-even foot traffic, but higher sales overall.Engelhard chalks that up to the after-holiday sales and the high numbers of gift certificates sold – perhaps reward for new packaging and an adjusted approach to gift certificate marketing. He expects to see many of the gift certificates used in the next few weeks. “You always get the right size when you get a gift certificate, right?” Engelhard said. “There are a lot of bargains to be had already, and I think people are planning ahead more and aiming at those sales.”"

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