Christmas shopping season starts with a bang

"The people of Kitsap opted to enjoy the last rays of sunshine Sunday by doing something other than shopping.Foot traffic at Kitsap Mall Sunday, the last day of the biggest shopping weekend of the year, was down compared to last year. But that’s OK, say mall officials, because foot traffic was up 2.6 percent on the day after Thanksgiving, the traditional beginning of the Christmas season.Kitsap Mall Marketing Director Darcy Pearce also reported that foot traffic held steady to last year’s numbers on Saturday, and dropped 5 percent Sunday. But the good news is that people who did shop those days bought more. “I asked a couple of retailers to see if they see the trend continuing, and what they noticed were people spending more. I’ve heard a lot of that – people are spending more this year or they might have been in the store prior to the holidays and then came back,” Pearce says.“We were very pleased our tenants had such a great weekend,” Pearce says.And what were they buying? “Pokemon, of course, was really big,” observes Pearce. “There was a lot of the outerwear in fashion, and millennium items were big items. One retailer mentioned ... garden fountains are very popular.”Those aren’t the only items to hit the stores big. Pearce says people bought some of the more old fashioned gift items, like plush toys, in droves. More people than last opted for the traditional photograph with Santa Claus. “Our Santa did good. They had increases on Friday and Saturday, but they were down Sunday,” says Pearce.Beyond those, toy stores reported huge sales in Toy Story 2 merchandise. Pearce says there had been some rumbling in the mall that e-commerce would cut into toy store sales, but that rumor has failed to bear out. “Surprisingly enough, most of our stores didn’t feel that much of an impact from it,” Pearce said. “There’s still that strong touch it, feel it concept” bringing shoppers into the stores.Old Town businesses did not fare as well as the mall. Hattie Lin’s co-owner Lin Ulin reports the streets in Old Town were very quiet.“It was not what we had hoped for. It was very quiet down here – everyone must have been at the mall,” Ulin says. However, business at the gift and antique shop on Byron Street picked up in the afternoon.Ulin said Hattie Lin’s offers some collectible holiday items and features some special items brought in just for the season. “We have a lot of different Russ plushes, very early cookie jars and last year’s collectible cookie jars, Marcel Schurman Christmas cards, decorations like silk flowers, wreaths, candles and candle holders and Fran’s chocolates,” she said."

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