Tuesday, November 17, 2009

2009 better year for antiques 'mall'

by Bob Pepalis / Appen Newspapers

November 16, 2009 MILTON – Patty Jones, a dealer at Queen of Hearts Antiques in Alpharetta, thought at the beginning of this year sales would be up. It turned out she was right, as the owners of the Business told her sales are up 20 percent from last year.

Jones doesn't believe that no longer being in the midst of major renovations to the building's exterior, a project completed last year, could account for all of that improvement.

"I think it's up even with the economy the way it is. This store is where the economy is going as far as where the prices are so good," Jones said.

Queen of Hearts offers low prices like a Walmart or other discount store, she said.

"I was telling the owner the other day, I feel like that's what we are: A shop where prices are very reasonable, and that's why sales are up."

She said the antiques "mall" is a one-stop shop, with Christmas presents available for under $10, and furniture starting at $29 and going up to $1,000.

"It's a very good bargain place," Jones said.

A survey conducted by BIGresearch for the National Retail Federation bears out Jones' beliefs. According to the 2009 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, more than half of holiday shoppers say that sales and price discounts (43.3 percent) or everyday low prices (12.7 percent) will be the most important factor when deciding where to shop. Factors like selection (21 percent), quality (11.8 percent), convenience (4.9 percent) and customer service (4.4 percent) declined from last year.

And research by the International Council of Shopping Centers in its Consumer Holiday Spending Survey conducted with Goldman Sachs calls the big shopping day after Thanksgiving "Bargain Friday" instead of Black Friday. Bargain Friday apparently will be a very busy day, perhaps busier than any Friday after Thanksgiving since 2005, the survey reports.

According to the National Retail Federation's (NRF) 2009 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch, U.S. consumers plan to spend an average of $682.74 on holiday-related shopping, a 3.2 percent drop from last year's $705.

But in the South, consumers plan to spend even more than last year's national average, $709.

"While last holiday season was filled with chaotic confusion, adjusting to uncertainty has now become routine for many Americans," said NRF President and CEO Tracy Mullin. "This holiday season will be a bit of a dance between retailers and shoppers, with each group feeling the other out to understand how things have changed and how they must adapt."

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