“Hallelujah” is Linda Lester’s response to this holiday shopping season.
Sales are up at Lester’s store, The Etc. Shop, 928 Mass. That’s good news for the 31-year-old downtown Lawrence business that has weathered all kinds of economic cycles.
“We are doing well with Christmas,” Lester said. “And we still have a few days.”
The Etc. Shop is one of many stores in Lawrence and across the country that are reporting stronger sales over last holiday season.
The National Retail Federation expects holiday sales to rise 3.8 percent this year, which would bring in a record $469.1 billion. In the trade organization’s forecast, NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay noted that retailers are “cautiously optimistic” that this holiday season will turn out better than expected.
The Toy Store, 936 Mass., has been busy since Black Friday, co-manager Jhami Guffey said. And things have picked up in the past week and a half.
The store’s most popular items have been the Perplexus and Perplexus Epic, which are 3-D puzzle mazes. They’ve sold out of the Perplexus Epic.
“People are trying to shop local, and we’ve been trying to do a good job the entire year by proving we can help them,” Guffey said.
Joe Flannery, president of Weaver’s Department Store, said there was a bit of a lull after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but since then things have picked back up.
“Last year was good, and this year is on par with that,” Flannery said.
Popular items at Weaver’s are women’s scarves and gloves, sweaters, kitchen items and fragrances.
“Most of them are practical items. We see that people are buying things they know people really need,” Flannery said.
Even though the year has been a good one, shopping trends aren’t pointing to a fully recovered economy.
“We aren’t back by any means,” Flannery said.
As for the national chain stores along South Iowa Street, sales at Target are up compared with last year, said Jennifer Ridenhour, an executive team leader for the store. The hot items are MP3 players, e-readers and portable DVD players. There also has been an upswing in the number of toys purchased compared with last year.
Last weekend, sales were given a boost by a promotion that gave anyone who spent more than $75 a $10 gift card.
“It’s been a really great year for us,” Ridenhour said.
Stores aren’t the only ones seeing a boost in traffic. The downtown Lawrence post office is reporting an increase in packages, a number that has steadily grown in the past few years.
“We are seeing a lot of online purchases,” supervisor Becky Condiff said.