The Season of Giving: Supreme Shopping

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This holiday, expect new records when it comes to the season’s shopping. Apparently, time is not a factor with fewer shopping days available this calendar year.  

The National Retail Federation predicts once present wrapping is all said and done, there will be a rise in sales of 3.9 percent, reaching an approximate total of $602 billion. That's about half a percent more growth than last year.

Specialists attribute the large surge in sales to early and significant bargains offered by stores no longer limited to Black Friday deals including Amazon.com, Walmart and Best Buy. In fact, the average number of sales offered by stores this year has also increased by 13.9 percent.

The growing popularity of online shopping has also helped business owners and holiday shoppers check off their wish lists, having already reached a record $1 billion spent online by Thanksgiving day.

Others on a more local scale, however, have another way to explain the rise, giving credit to Santa and his little helpers for business’s positive turnout this year.

This is especially true for the small businesses of Nelsonville, Ohio. Facing previous shopping seasons with little profit, the town’s Chamber of Commerce took action.

Equipped with Santa, his elves, the North Pole, a parade, The Polar Express, local deals and more, the small community began to see more customers stopping at local shops. The celebration also included a pageant crowing the Royal Snow Flakes, a special breakfast, Santa’s village and exclusive offers for local residents.

“Lately, it’s been pretty busy,” says Nelsonville Emporium employee Jennifer L’heureux. “I’d say it’s better than usual but, for the most part, we’ve been pretty steady.”

L’heureux added that the store is staying open for extra hours on Sundays and other days of the week during the holiday season and will also be offering coupons to last minute shoppers. Overall, they hope these promotional tools will help to bring in more customers.

Despite stores like The Emporium’s efforts, in-store deals might not appeal to all local shoppers. Elizabeth Hopstetter appreciates the speed and ease of virtual deals, so she’s more prone to using the online shopping cart instead.

“I go shopping mostly online, but I do go shopping (in Nelsonville) too and I’ve got a good deal,” she says. “But with two weeks (left to shop) it’s been really easy … I get it shipped to me really fast online.”

Santa is also feeling the heat as he, the elves and the reindeer work to get everything ready for Christmas.

“Christmas is coming … and we gotta have everything ready,” Santa says. “The elves are busy and we hope we have some snow so the reindeers can fly through the air and we can get everything delivered.”

Parents, on the other hand, seem to be a bit more calm and collected. Nelsonville local and mother of three, Meriah Bond, for example, already has most of her shopping finished and still has time to take her youngest, Jaxon, to visit Santa.

“We just like to make sure that anything he pays attention to in the store, we sneak it into the car,” Bond says. “(She and her husband) just want to make sure they have plenty to play with on Christmas morning.”

With millions checking out at stores across the county despite this year’s time crunch, it seems as though Jaxon won’t be the only one discovering a few extra surprises from Santa come Christmas morning.