Archive for Wednesday, December 20, 1989

COLD SNAP A BOON FOR LOCAL RETAILERS

December 20, 1989

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Local Christmas shoppers seem to have borrowed the motto of the U.S. Postal Service. The snow, ice and frigid weather isn't keeping them from making their holiday shopping rounds, according to a check today with some Lawrence retailers.

In fact, most of the store managers say the cold is bringing in more people than last year sending sales higher for this Christmas shopping season.

"I think cold weather helps everybody," said Joe Flannery, president of Weaver's Inc. Department Store, 901 Mass. "I have never known a retailer that didn't like cold weather in December."

Flannery said that when it's cold, people think about buying new gloves, new sweaters, new boots and new blankets for themselves and for gifts.

"So cold weather is ideal for us. And as a result, we're having a better Christmas than last year," he said.

FLANNERY said sales at Weaver's, the city's oldest department store, were about 7 percent ahead for the month.

"They are buying things that have some long life, as do sweaters, jewelry, fragrances, leather jackets," he said.

Leather bomber jackets have been popular for both women and men of all ages during the month, he said.

Across town at Wal-Mart, 2727 Iowa, cars can be seen streaming in and out of the large parking lot throughout the day.

However, when the snow fell Thursday and Monday, the parking lot was noticeably less full, said Bobby Jones, the store's manager.

"We were hurting a little bit Monday night and Thursday night, when it snowed," Jones said. "But the weekend more than made up for that. It's so late in the season I don't think anything is going to stop it unless we have a foot or two."

JONES SAID Wal-Mart is having a good shopping season, although he wouldn't put a percentage figure on the increase.

"We're doing quite a bit better than last year," he said. "We're on budget and on target and are real pleased with it. There is still plenty of inventory left. The selection of things is holding out a little better than it was last year."

However, he said most of the popular toy items already have sold out, such as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle line and the Upsy Daisy doll.

Steve Wyss, manager of J.C. Penney, 1801 W. 23rd, said the cold weather has meant more sales of winter merchandise, such as boots, gloves, coats and thermal underwear.

"And Christmas sales have been just excellent," Wyss said. "The economy is good and there has been strong Christmas buying, particularly in the men's and children's wear."

WYSS ALSO declined to estimate how much buying had gone up this year.

"It has been a strong holiday season, and sales are above last year," he said.

Several hardware stores contacted today also reported that sales are going well, despite the cold weather.

Rod Ernst, owner of Ernst & Son, 826 Mass., said the weather hasn't kept very many shoppers away.

"They're going to be coming in anyway. Christmas is coming and they've got to get out one way or another. They're going to have to get out and do it," Ernst said. "It's been pretty much the same as last year."

John Crawford, assistant manager, at Roach Hardware Inc., 2108-C W. 27th, said sales "have been great so far."

"We're out of shovels and out of sleds until Thursday," he said.

The store has been selling a lot of ice melt to apartment complexes and gasoline stations, he said.

"And of course our Christmas gifts have done real well," Crawford said.

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