Holiday shopping kick-off exceeds expectations

"Despite lackluster predictions, local retailers reported a robust Thanksgiving weekend.The post-Thanksgiving shopping rush, which is usually the busiest of the year for retailers and the official opening of the holiday season, was predicted to be less festive this year due to high gas prices and stock market uncertainties.But stores in Central Kitsap said plenty of gravy was left over for them when shoppers hit the stores on Friday. We made over four times what we usually make, said River McCormack, a manager at the Target branch in Silverdale.Sales expectations were not high this year, due in part to lingering presidential election woes, McCormack said. Compared to last year, McCormack said retailers were preparing to take a hit.People are not as Christmasy this year, McCormack said.However, the Silverdale Target did well because it kept ahead of demand. Popular products often sell out in a hurry due to the holiday rush, but McCormack said the store took pains to ensure shelves were full. Even with the competition in the area, we were stocked and we did very well, McCormack said.McCormack worked at a slightly busier store in California this time last year. But she estimated that Silverdale's 2000 Christmas kick-off did about $100,000 more business than that store's 1999 Thanksgiving weekend.Target did so well its neighbor, Computer Renaissance, complained department store customers were hogging all the parking. Computer Renaissance technician Kevin Wimberly said many drive-by shoppers couldn't find parking Friday and had to come back later in the weekend. Although more people wandered through Computer Renaissance this year than last, Wimberly said the store did only about half as much business.It was a good day for looking, not for buying, Wimberly said. Although Wimberly lamented poor parking and revenues, he maintained that Computer Renaissance still had a good day. Computer system sales are down, but parts sales have risen - a result Wimberly attributed to customers upgrading computers they purchased last year. With supply high and demand down, Wimberly estimated a system that cost around $2,000 last year will cost around $1,200 this year.There was nothing but good news and plenty of parking for the estimated 56,000 cars that visited Kitsap Mall over the weekend. More people came through the mall's doors this year than last, according to Marketing Director Stacey Ames, and profits were good for all the major and specialty stores.The majority of the stores met expectation with a couple stores doing really well, Ames said. Most of the specialty stores did incredible.Ames said there was concern that sales would plummet because there are more days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year than there have been in five years. But Ames said the shoppers came, lured by sales and the holiday spirit of shopping. The season should continue to be strong, Ames said.Last weekend's snowfall also helped Kitsap Sports. President John Degarimore said post-Thanksgiving revenues were 10 percent higher than last year. He expects sales to remain steady throughout the season.A lot of our business this time of year is skiing and snowboarding and the fact that we are not skiing yet and getting all this business is a good sign, Degarimore said. Degarimore said the weekend snow in the Cascades and the opening of Whistler Ski Resort in British Columbia and Timberline Ski Resort in Oregon will only add to the brisk business Kitsap Sports already is doing.If you can be skiing by the first couple weeks of December, everyone is happy, Degarimore said. "

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