Despite facing various challenges throughout much of the year, many local retailers saw stronger-than-usual sales this holiday season—which, in most cases, came from a mix of in-store and some online purchases.
Most retailers continued to see in-store sales trump online sales. Take Victoria’s Toy Station, which not only saw its usual trove of customers come in to buy electric scooters, video-makers, inflatable floor pillows, and classic Fisher-Price toys, but also added new customers to its computer system. A surprising hit were gumball machines, with the toy store selling out of the product early on in the holidays.
“We don’t have everything online that’s in our store,” says manager Denise Stari, adding that Victoria’s created its website earlier this year because of the pandemic. “The more we add online, the better we’ll do there.”
Meanwhile, Highland Side Gift Gallery expects to have had one of its best Christmases ever, according to manager Erika David, who’s crunching the numbers tomorrow. Like Victoria’s, the 21-year-old Highland Side also set up its website for the first time this year, which helped boost revenues, though David estimates a 4-to-1 ratio of in-store to online sales.
Yet even with year-over-year revenue increases each month, David says the gift gallery has had to weather some unique pandemic-related challenges this December.
“We’ve had people go out who were sick with COVID-19, so we’ve had lots of employees out and quarantined at different points,” David says. “Sometimes, we’ve had some longtime customers come in and help us as backup.”
Laura Rentrop, owner of The Foyer in Acadian-Perkins Plaza, doesn’t offer her merchandise online and is trying to find ways to drive more foot traffic. Though her overall revenues are down from last year’s, she says the whole fourth quarter has been great for her business, with December revenues some $20,000 above those in 2019.
“In the past few months, we were selling a lot more interior decorating stuff because people were redoing their homes, but as far as Christmas goes, we sell an enormous amount of art in December,” Rentrop says. “Artwork typically makes up about one-third of our sales, and it might’ve gone up to 40% this holiday season.”
However, some stores, like Gypsy Hill Boutique, reported far more online sales than in-store sales, which owner Britney Leon says was “odd” for the Perkins Rowe store. The 90% revenue spike from online purchases helped offset the store’s 75% decline in in-person sales so that, overall, year-over-year holiday sales rose.
“Over the month of December, we had more online sales than we did for the entire year,” Leon says. “If COVID-19 wasn’t going on, our in-store sales would’ve been better than they were last year, but I don’t know if our online sales would’ve been as good.”
Top sellers for Gypsy Hill—which is changing its focus in 2021 to sell only babies’ and toddlers’ clothing—included stocking stuffers such as keychains, headbands, scrunchies and socks.