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Looking for Better

Retailers hoping for more sales

November 13, 2011
By MIKE ZUMMO , The Leader Herald

Bob Galinsky has a simple goal for the holiday shopping season.

The manager of Fownes Factory Store wants to have a better year than he did last year, which was his first on the corner of North Comrie and Townsend avenues in Johnstown.

Indications are that he might, as expressed by several organizations.

Article Photos

The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan
Bob Galinsky, manager of the Fownes Factory Store in Johnstown, places colorful leather gloves on display at the store on Thursday.

The New York State Retail Council said its members are expressing optimism about the upcoming holiday season.

According to a survey conducted of the organization's members, 62 percent expect to do the same or better numbers than they did last year.

According to ShopperTrak, retail spending is expected to to rise about 3 percent between this month and December, while foot traffic through stores is expected to drop by 2.2 percent.

That could mean one of two things. People will shop at home on their computers, or might buy more items in one store.

Galinsky hopes several factors will bring shoppers into his store.

"Our prices are much lower than a regular retail store so I'm expecting that is going to help me do better than last year," he said. "People are looking for bargains, and we have them."

Shoppertrak also points to to other factors that they expect will cause people to limit the number of stores they visit this holiday season.

Unemployment rates are still high and gasoline prices are 33 percent higher this shopping season than they were last year.

"The persistently high unemployment and fuel rates, along with consumers' conservative purchasing attitudes will affect spending this holiday season more than in recent years," ShopperTrak co-founder Bill Martin said in a news release. "Every shopper in a store will be more valuable than last year, and retail stores should be ready to convert their holiday shoppers into sales."

Fewer shoppers in the store can mean more success for the big-box stores that also sell their merchandise online. However, some of them also are looking for ways to bring customers in.

Walmart, which has locations in the towns of Johnstown and Amsterdam, has brought back its layaway program after putting it on the shelf for several years.

Walmart's layaway program started Oct. 17 and will end Dec. 16. It requires a customer to put down 10 percent of the purchase price. It does come with several conditions. The total purchase must be more than $50 and each item must be at least $15.

The program also has a $5 service charged tacked onto the price of the item. However, if a customer puts an item on layaway at Walmart and changes his mind, there will be a cancellation fee of $10. The customer also will lose the $5 surcharge but get the rest of the money refunded.

Physical stores also will face competition from the Internet, which according to the National Retail Federation, online retailers are pushing promotions heavily this season.

According to a survey by shop.org, 93 percent of retailers are offering free shipping. Overall, the survey found the average shopper plans to do 36 percent of his shopping on the Internet.

Throughout the state, retailers are saying they plan to order as much merchandise as they did in 2010.

"New York retailers will be balancing a well thought-out inventory with appropriately priced items and are hoping a little holiday spirit will influence their customers' shopping behaviors this year, said James R. Sherin, president and chief executive officer of the retail council. "Merchants continue to adapt to their customers' needs and expectations each holiday season, and that is never more apparent than this year."

Mike Zummo is the business editor. He can be reached at business@leaderherald.com.

 
 

 

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