Retailers experience record holiday sales

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By Leslie Moore

Local retailers are calling this year's Christmas shopping season a huge success, with several stores seeing dramatic sales increases over last year.

Rebecca Ford, manager at Goody's, said sales surpassed this year's goal and that it's "crazy" to see the difference from last year.

"We're empty, our racks are bare," Ford said.

Although Goody's is mostly known for clothing, Ford said household items flew off the shelves.

"We had little kitchen electronics and they went on sale Thanksgiving night and we were out by Black Friday," Ford said.

The store quickly restocked those items, which remained popular among shoppers through Christmas.

Mitchell's owner Laura Wilds said many customers started their Christmas shopping as early as October and sales remained consistent through December.

"We had a better year than last year and we had added a couple of new lines this year that really proved to be popular brands," Wilds said.

Wilds said the recent addition of Columbia Sportswear has been tremendous for the store.

"Kentucky weather is just great for layering things," Wilds said.

She said her women's line has also remained popular and some items had to be reordered to keep up with customer demand.

The Christmas shopping season also paid off for Walmart, with the major retailer experiencing record-breaking Black Friday sales, according to spokesperson Molly Blakeman.

"We sold something like three million towels, which is not something you think about for black Friday, but it's a big time for towels," Blakeman said.

Certain items such as electronics typically have to be returned within a specific timeframe in order for customers to receive a refund, but Blakeman said Walmart is extending its return policy to 90 days storewide. She said this move will be beneficial to customers by giving them more time to return items as well help ease post-holiday long lines at the service desk.

"Whether it's groceries for week, Christmas presents or stocking stuffers, we're always working to ensure our families get what they need," Blakeman said.

Gerald Morris, owner of Radio Shack, said sales were down by about a third this year compared to last year's holiday shopping season, but prepaid cell phones, Android tablets and remote-controlled helicopters were favorites among his customers.

Romance was also in the air this holiday season as Kathleen Tucker, owner of Tucker Diamonds & Gold, said engagement rings accounted for much of their sales. Also popular were Firefly Motion diamond pendants, Hershey Kiss jewelry and Personality beads.

"We were very pleased with our Christmas sales," Tucker said. "We have been advertising in the newspaper, on the radio and on Facebook encouraging people to shop locally and Campbellsville did not let us down."

Although Christmas has passed, Tucker said the holiday rush generally doesn't slow down until after the New Year.

"People come in to get their ring sized or they may need to have a bracelet shortened," Tucker said.

She said shoppers eager to spend the money they got for Christmas will buy Fossil wallets and other small accessories during the next several days.

Furniture stores say although recliners are too big to fit under a Christmas tree, they have become a hot-selling item this time of year.

Harmon Furniture owner Terry Cox said he is very pleased with how well recliners sold and is looking forward to a good to start for the New Year.

"We're going to wind up a little bit ahead of last year," Cox said.

Furniture Liquidators manager Melinda Bostic said holiday sales at her store were a bit softer compared to the last two holiday shopping seasons. However, she said, their tradition of starting holiday sales in early November has helped sales stay consistent.

Joanie Miller, assistant manager at Big Lots, said this year's sales were great, with Black Friday going much smoother than in prior years.

"Our recliners have become a bigger hit every single year and I think it's because people are starting to shop around," Miller said. "Overall, I would say electronics and furniture were our biggest hits this year."

Post-Christmas, local retailers say they have gone into "recovery" mode to restock bare shelves and flip from winter to spring merchandise.

"I'm putting out pots and planters today," Miller said last Thursday.