A [fairly] bountiful holiday

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 3, 2008

It seems to have been “shopping as usual” in the area during this holiday season, although one store owner noticed a decline in customers due to several factors.

Steve Dail of Dail’s Home Center on Armory Drive in Franklin said that business was slow compared to last year, one reason being that local contractors don’t need as much in the way of building materials, because of the slump in the housing market.

In talking with his customers, Dail said the economy overall, including high fuel and food prices, has affected people’s spending practices.

“People are not just out blowing money,” he said.

Another factor impacting Dail’s sales this year has been the drought— something Dail said he hadn’t previously experienced.

“It affected everyone,” he said. “The farmers didn’t have much success, then they didn’t have the money to burn. They are tighter on the dollar.

“People didn’t use their lawn mowers as much and, therefore, didn’t need mower blades and other lawn and garden equipment.” Landscaping customers also had to watch their budgets.

“The holiday season was down. Overall, there were a lot of factors involved including building taking a nose dive, inflation on food and gas — and I don’t see wages going up that much,” he said.

Dail also noted since the new Lowe’s store just opened across Armory Drive prior to the Christmas season, it also had an impact. He did, however, see customers taking advantage of some good True Value sales, and noted a rise in gift card sales this year.

June Ricks, assistant store manager at Franklin’s Belk store, said things ran about the same in the way of customers as it did last year.

“We had a good Christmas season,” she said, “We had the same amount of shoppers as we have every Christmas.”

She said even when the store ran special early opening sales, there were people in the store throughout the day, and on Christmas Eve, many shoppers were there until closing time.

“The Friday after Thanksgiving was the busiest,” she said.

Ricks also noted that the gift cards from Belk were a hot item this year.

According to Lynne Rabil of Hubbard Peanut Co. in Sedley, it was a good year for peanut sales.

She said, “I would say we started out the season about the same as last year and ended the season with a huge bang.

“In the mail-order business, they talk about the half life of a product. That is when half of the orders are in the door and the other half are yet to come.

“Three years ago, our half life in general was the third week of November, and now it is the second week of December, which is attributed to people waiting until later and using more Internet services.”

Rabil said the company shipped out almost twice as much last week as they did the same week last year.

While the salted Hubs peanuts are still the most popular product at the business, the chocolate-covered peanut sales are growing as well.

The company is still receiving many orders for the New Year.

While folks waited on the Wii, the most sought after item for Christmas at Wal-Mart in Franklin, others were apparently carrying on with shopping as usual.

According to Store Co-Manager Jason Sanders, it was a great and typical season.

“We were busy,” he said. “We probably had a little bit more in the way of last-minute shoppers this year.”

The anticipated shipment of Wiis arrived at Wal-Mart the day after Christmas, and were sold in a “couple of hours,” according to Sanders.