Local News

Some opt for local shops over mall mania

Posted November 28, 2008 12:44 p.m. EST
Updated November 28, 2008 7:02 p.m. EST

— Some consumers were choosing not to fight the crowds at the malls on Black Friday, shopping instead at unique, local specialty shops like Swagger Gifts in Cary.

They say they get customer service and can support local business owners.

They provide a counterpoint to the big picture economists paint for this recession-bound holiday season. That story has anything but holiday cheer.

“Unfortunately, retailers are going to have to have expectations that it's going to be a disastrous season, which means watching your inventory and number of employees (and) trying to save as much as possible, expecting business will be poor this year,” Duke University economist Campbell Harvey said of the national situation.

On Kildare Farm Road in Cary, though, Swagger employee Heather Lilly is upbeat.

“What everybody is saying about how everything is slowing down – we're seeing things pick up. It’s really good. We're all really excited about it,” Lilly said.

Small retailers say shoppers seem to be supporting local businesses in record numbers this year, despite the grim economic news.

“We don't want to lose the cute little shops,” shopper Heather Jackson said. “You can't find these things at the mall. I don't even go to the mall hardly anymore. I love to come to these cute boutiques to get unique gifts people can't get everywhere.”

Another big perk of a store like Swagger is free gift-wrapping, which saves the consumer time and money – no small concern this year.

With consumer spending accounting for two-thirds of the U.S. economy, the decisions individuals make about where to shop and how much to spend this year are bound to be important news for the month to come.

The National Retail Federation predicts close to 128 million people will shop this weekend – down slightly from the 135 million people who said they shopped last year.