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Christmas sales — up, up and away

The unofficial word for this year’s Christmas sales — the weekend after Thanksgiving — was “up.” Possibly “way up,” indicated several merchants.

The weekend got off to a busy start Friday, Nov. 28, with 52,738 people entering Kitsap Mall, said Mall Marketing Manager Stacey Ames. This is about the same number as last year, she said.

However, Saturday, Nov. 29, 35,000 people entered the Mall — up 6 percent over last year, Ames said. Sunday, nearly 23,000 shoppers flooded the parking lots — up 5 percent over 2002.

These are significant numbers — provided Mall walkers aren’t just window shopping. Other indicators suggest they’re doing more than looking, they’re buying.

“Friday sales were mainly gift items” said Ames. “Jewelry and food sales were way up Friday, compared to last year.”

Weisfield Jewelers topped the list for sales, she said, declining to release any figures.

Mall gift certificates were a hit this season — up 27 percent over last year. However, pictures with Santa were down 14 percent.

(Santa was also having his picture taken with kids at last Saturday’s community Christmas Tree lighting, and with pets at the Humane Society and PetSmart.)

“Last year, the (Navy) ships were out. But all the ships are back now,” Ames said, as a way of explaining the increase in shoppers.

The big department stores inside the Mall did well: Gottschalks “did great,” Ames said. “And it was J.C. Penney’s best day, Friday ... they set a record.”

Smaller storefronts were also happy counting their cash, Ames said. “That Kitchen Shop” had its best day “of the year.” Clothing store, Christopher & Banks, reported they were No. 1 in sales in their district area. The Disney Store was No. 1 in its district.

Disney store franchise owners were at the tree lighting Saturday evening and spoke about their business.

“Yesterday (Friday, Nov. 28) was the most outstanding day we ever had,” said co-owner Jorjie Litsch. She co-owns the store with husband Larry, both of Silverdale.

Outside the Mall, big and little stores seemed to be doing just as well in Silverdale.

Store Director Josh Sherwin of PetSmart said “Generally sales were very good ... the whole weekend was strong.” PetSmart is located off Bucklin Hill Road in the 9500 block of Ridgetop Blvd. N.W.

“It was definitely better than last year,” he said. “We’re really looking forward to our Santa weekends with pets.”

Adults and children will be able to bring their pets in for a photo with Santa. The program began last Saturday and will run the weekends of Dec. 6, 13 and 20.

Other non-Mall large stores, contacted at random, either deferred to corporate offices, which failed to return calls by deadline, or declined to quote sales figures.

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