CHRISTMAS trade was healthy in the Nowra CBD for many businesses and up on last year, according to a number of store owners.
The weeks and days leading up to the town’s most important sales season is an anxious time for local retailers.
This year many business owners were kept guessing up to the last minute but just days before Christmas and in some cases the day before, sales kicked off.
Knickerboxers and Cotton On reported record sales on Christmas Eve.
Rita Sullivan from Knickerboxers said it was “wonderful to see local people supporting local business”.
“Christmas trade was very good. We had the best Christmas in our 11 years,” she said.
“It started late, though. Leading up to Christmas I thought they’re buying online again or going to Shellharbour.
“But then we got absolutely slammed the day before Christmas.
“I think the word is getting out about the importance and advantages of shopping locally.
“You don’t have to go out of the area to get what you want.
“People might be realising the negative impact that shopping online has on local retail stores,” she said.
Mrs Sullivan’s thoughts were supported by Cotton On manager Yasmin Burk, who had her own theory on internet sales.
“It’s possible that shoppers were starting to get over the online phase,” she said.
“In store you can touch and try things on, you can ask about items and fit.
“If you get it wrong or have trouble with an item you buy online it can be a real hassle to return it or get a refund.
“In-store service is where we can assist a customer better than a mouse can.
“The Christmas trade build-up was slow for us but in the days before Christmas it was very busy – better than last year – and Monday, December 23 was our best day for the store,” she said.
David Harrison from Stanley Johns said Christmas trade was “good”.
“It was late, but our post-Christmas is always good and foot traffic has been pretty high.
“The thing I’ve noticed is my customers are looking for sale items leading up to Christmas – they want more value for their dollar.
“A lot of Sydney visitors to the region shop in here. They say they like the shop and the fact they can get the brands I have in the one store.”
Dymocks book store recorded good Christmas sales as did Sports Power.
Owner of Sports Power George Kulcsar thought a combination of more advertising, low interest rates and consumer confidence helped retail at Christmas.
“I was up on the year before but that’s not to say the year before was great,” he said.
“As with previous years, I noticed a lot of last-minute shopping. That can be tough on retail because when people leave it to the last minute, if we have sold out of something it can be hard for the supplier to get it through quick enough.”
Mr Kulcsar accepted online sales were part of the environment he trades in but said it still made for tough competition.
“Often we hear about loyalty but the bottom line is it comes down to price.
“We try to do the best we can and we offer gifts and a rewards program,” he said.