Business

Businesses happy with Christmas shopping season

Target opened in Maple Ridge in 2013. - The News/Files
Target opened in Maple Ridge in 2013.
— image credit: The News/Files

Santa didn’t forget local stores and businesses when he swept through town on Christmas Day, ensuring a fair sprinkling of goodies all year round.

In one of Maple Ridge mall’s, more people were out spending their money this holiday season than last, although it took until the second week of December to get out their wallets and purses.

“I can tell, in talking to tenants, that foot traffic definitely was up,” said Nicole Archer, manager at Valley Fair Mall.

That was evident in the lineups to see Santa in the mall, which sometimes took four hours.

With Maple Ridge’s population continuing to grow, Archer said merchants saw lots of new faces.

“We saw a lot of young families out.”

The manager of the London Drugs in the mall said the same thing and noted more retailers are now responding to the competition from the U.S. by adding another sale day, Black Friday, to their schedule.

“I think all things considered, with all the different types of cross-border shopping, we did fine,” said Steve Usui.

Cross-border shopping has hurt retailers here in the past few years,

“But I think this year, most retailers went heavy on the Black Friday.”

That day falls on the day after the U.S. Thanksgiving in November and kicks off Christmas shopping in that country.

Next year should be better for B.C. retailers as they continue to focus on the U.S. competition.

Usui said when it comes to electronic goods, prices in Canada are similar to the U.S. But when it comes to clothing, it’s almost impossible to compete against U.S. stores.

Haney Sewing and Sound, also downtown, has had Black Friday sales for two years and the extra day helps even out sales over the holidays.

“It makes it a lot easier for sales,” said Don Norman at the store. “We’re up from last year.”

Greg Sheppard, also at Haney Sewing, said the price discrepancy between Canada and U.S. for electronic goods has narrowed over the past few years to the point there’s only a 10- or 15-per-cent price difference.

“Generally speaking, it was a good year for Black Friday and Boxing Day sales.”

Large-screen TVs and Bluetooth sound systems attracted most interest.

Boxing Day was busy at EB Games, with people lining up in the afternoon to get into the store in Meadowtown Centre, said assistant manager Yeska Marois.

The store put out a flyer and put on lots of deals that drew the crowds that resulted in half-hour waits to get to the tills. On the other hand, Black Friday was quiet in the store, Marois said.

The most popular item is PlayStation 4.

“But we’ve been sold out since November. They come in and go out very fast.” More shipments of the $399 set are due in February.

At Pyrgos Taverna, Georgina Nikolopoulos said there have been better Christmas shopping seasons, in the 23 years the restaurant has been on Lougheed Highway.

Many people told her they leave Maple Ridge and do all their shopping in larger malls in larger communities, such as Langley.

“We need more development, more business. We’ve got to do something to improve our community.”

At Firefly Fine Wines and Ales, manager Holly Stone had similar sentiments, with some days busier than others.

But, overall, the amount of traffic similar to last year.

“It was about the same. Christmas Eve seemed a little busier this year.”

The Jolly Coachman Pub on Ford Road in Pitt Meadows had a good December, said manager Bruce McGregor. “It was great. It was really busy.”

People seem to have adapted to the tougher rules against drinking and driving that allow police to seize vehicles at roadside. And with all the condos and apartments nearby, many people now just walk to the pub.

“We had a really great month,” pointing out roast beef and fish and chips specials on certain nights help out with the slow times.

The new Target store in downtown Maple Ridge also held its first Boxing Week sale, after opening this fall.

Starting Boxing Day and continuing to Jan. 2, the store offered discounts of up to 70 per cent.

According to a release, electronics (televisions and tablets), small appliances (vacuums and single serve coffee makers), storage and bedding were “especially popular.”

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