Arkansas Retailers Hope Holiday Season Is Happy

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Oct. 8, 2012 12:00 am  

Barbara Graves plans to launch an advertising campaign to lure customers to her store for the holidays. (Photo by Michael Pirnique)

Barbara Graves will be aggressive this holiday season.

“We’re asking [customers] for their business,” said Graves, who owns Barbara Graves Intimate Fashions in Little Rock, which sells lingerie, swimwear and loungewear and features a mastectomy department. “We’re talking to customers, … seeing what they want and how do we get it for them.”

She said sales have been down about 3.5 percent year-to-date from last year, but she hopes to see positive sales numbers by the end of the year. To do that, she will launch an advertising campaign that includes niche publications, newspapers, Facebook and possibly radio advertisements.

“It’s been a challenging year,” said Graves who has been in business for nearly 40 years.

This holiday season will be a mixed bag for Arkansas retailers, though. While some are projecting about the same sales as last year, others forecast higher sales during the holiday shopping season, which begins the day after Thanksgiving and gives retailers 32 shopping days and five full weekends of crowded malls.

(See Also: Arkansas Retailers Report Mixed Holiday Outlooks)

Across the country, retailers are expected to see an increase over last year’s holiday sales. The National Retail Federation of Washington, D.C., predicted holiday sales this year would increase 4.1 percent from 2011 to $586.1 billion.

For the 2011 holiday season, retail sales were projected to be up about 3 percent, but finished with a 5.6 percent increase, the highest growth since 2005, when it rose 6.2 percent compared over the previous year.

“I think we’re going to see a fairly modest increase,” said Michael Pakko, chief economist at the Institute for Economic Advancement at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. He projects retail sales in Arkansas will be up 4 or 4.5 percent from last year.

THVideo: An Early Holiday Shopping Forecast


Others experts foresee a modest gain for Arkansas.



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