People are Holding on to Their Money this Christmas

Both said prices were too high to shop "main street" and it was the big box store's online discounts that attracted them. They also indicated they were spending about twenty to thirty percent less this year.

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After hearing all the talk on TV and reading the on line reports about how consumers are not spending the way some of the guru economists predicted they would, I decided to do a little checking on my on.  Yesterday I went to the downtown shopping area here on our beautiful Island.  After arming myself with a hot coffee I sat down and watched for a while.  There were several things that caught my attention on how this holiday shopping spree may be shaping up.

The first thing I noticed was that there seemed more tourist than locals in Fernandina Beach.¬† There was more window shopping than buying with this group.¬† I did notice that a few local Island souvenirs were being purchased but all in all, nothing big.¬† I saw a few folks that I know from being a lifelong resident here.¬† They were also doing a lot of window looking as well as buying.¬† I talked with a couple and it seems they just enjoy visiting downtown, an ice cream or coffee and do doing a little “people watching”.¬† My favorite thing to do on any sidewalk caf√©.

I did strike up a conversation with a couple of tourists and asked what brought them to the island?¬† Both couples had been here before, and like mostly everyone else, fell in love with Amelia Island and wanted to come back for a visit.¬† One couple was celebrating their 25th anniversary, while the other couple just wanted to get away for two days.¬† When asked if they had planned on doing some of their Christmas shopping here, both explained they had already finished over 90% and it was all done online.¬† Both said prices were too high to shop “main street” and it was the discounts offered by big box stores online, that attracted them.¬† They also indicated they were spending about twenty to thirty percent less this year.

I guess the news reports are correct, sales are down and shoppers have a different view of not only what they are going to buy, but also the bargain prices they are willing to pay.  There is no way a small business can compete with a big box store in matching price for price on items.  I hope this holiday shopping season will help retailers, both large and small, but what I am seeing has not given me that level of comfort. One thing they should look into is being a re-seller for big box store gift certificates, something Publix has undertaken successfully. Any type of income is welcome as long as there is traffic.

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