Barb Young is excited about the holiday shopping season. It’s the first one her Crown Point store, Barbara Jean’s Gifts and Gourmet, will experience after opening nine months ago.
It remains to be seen if other region retailers share Young’s excitement, especially with gas prices remaining higher than normal for this time of year and the dive the stock market took following the presidential election.
But retailers probably share Young’s curiosity about this holiday shopping season.
“I’m real optimistic about it,” she said. "I’m also realistic. It’s our first year. I’ve done a lot of advertising and marketing, and I’m curious to see how that’s going to come back at me.”
Young said she will have a better idea of what’s to come after she hosts a Christmas open house at her store Nov. 17.
“That might be the barometer for me,” she said. “That might be a little lead in to what’s going to happen. If I don’t do very well this year it’s OK. It’s my first year.”
Rosemary De St. Jean, owner of Rosemary's Heritage Flowers in Crown Point, said she will also have a better gauge on the holiday shopping season following her own open house today.
“I think it’s more on an even keel,” De St. Jean said of holiday purchasing. “I don’t think there’s going to be overspending.”
De St. Jean doesn’t know when things will “go up,” but doesn’t expect it this year or next.
“The other businesses that I’ve talked to have been slow, she said. “I wish it was better.”
Personally, De St. Jean said her store is doing fine thanks to a loyal customer base.
“We have a great relationship with our customers,” she said. “We treat them right.”
Fred Halpern, owner of Albert’s Diamond Jewelers store in Schererville and Hobart, said all retail, including restaurants and bars, do most of their business during the holiday season. A lot of them try to stay even during the year but it can be a loss until the day after Thanksgiving. That’s when “the red turns to black” – as in Black Friday.
“You get your busy weekend right after Thanksgiving and then it builds,” Halpern said.
Halpern said all the major retailers think this is going to be a better season and that Northwest Indiana, for whatever reason, has not been hit as bad as the rest of the country economically.
“It’s just my feeling about how I see my own business,” he said.
Albert’s just opened a new store in Westfield Southlake Mall and is adding 9,000 square feet to its main location.
“I’m building stores. I’m hiring people. We’re doing all right,” he said.
Walmart spokeswoman Molly Philhours said her company's strategy entering the holiday season hasn’t changed.
“We’re really excited about what we have going on,” Philhours said. “Christmas is the largest shopping season of the year. We know that this season, in particular, our customers expect and need everyday low prices, and we’re focused on delivering that for them.”