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January 6th, 2009Retailers give mixed reviews

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by Joanna Kaselis Tzouvelis

Burlington – Shopping for gifts at the Burlington Mall is traditionally a boon to businesses during the holiday season, particularly the weekend prior to Christmas. This year however, two snowstorms during that crucial weekend, coupled with a nationwide recession, could have meant trouble for retailers.

However, according to Linnea Gerrior-Kelliher, director of Mall Marketing, that was not the case.

“It has been very, very busy and we have really seen a very heavy stream of traffic the entire holiday season, especially weekend traffic,” she said. “The addition of new retailers and Nordstrom has encouraged shoppers.”

Kelliher said she believed the mood of shoppers was positive and the mall seemed busier than past years. With the start of the holiday shopping season, otherwise known as Black Friday, Simon Malls added extra programs to attract shoppers with a campaign offering shoppers extra coupons, valet parking, and preferred parking spaces for customers with four or more people in their car.

According to Jon Hurst, president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, a state-wide trade association with more than 3,000 members, the economic climate has made it tough. “Consumers are spending, but being far more cautious, spending with cash, checks, debit cards, much less with credit cards,” said Hurst. “The average price point for gift buying is lower than last year, but they are still spending and taking advantage of great deals out there. All retailers are discounting and giving great deals to the customer.”

Hurst said he won’t know the final retail performance figures until after the first of the year, but he estimates it would be a 1 percent to 3 percent drop, with the luxury market down the most.

“Retailers went into the season not knowing what to expect – if it was it going to be a disaster or treading water situation,” said Hurst.

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