Merchants hope for busy season
Leada DeVaney, Hartselle Enquirer
There's no place like home for the holidays. That's what Hartselle merchants are hoping you will be saying this Christmas, as business owners are banking on an improving economy to bring a stronger holiday buying season.
Nationally, experts said after-Thanksgiving sales were up about 5 percent from last year. Local merchants said their season is also off to a good start.
"I think traffic was good," Netta Sue Hill, owner of Suzy's Hallmark in downtown Hartselle, said of her after Thanksgiving business. "There were a lot of family groups out and people who were from Hartselle who had come back because they wanted to come back and go downtown to shop."
For Robin McCutcheon, co-owner of Robin's Nest Children Boutique, she said her holiday rush came before Thanksgiving.
"People were buying clothes for holiday pictures," McCutcheon said. "I think we will have a good season."
That's music to the ears of Chamber of Commerce Director Susan Hines.
"It shows support for our store owners who have made investments in Hartselle by way of placing their business here, hiring employees, feeding families, purchasing and maintaining property," she said. "It makes the local economy more stable."
Hines said city sales tax revenue was up 6 percent in October.
"It indicates an increase in sales and a definite improvement in the economy," she said.
Equally important, Hines said if sales tax continues to grow, city officials would be less likely to turn to other forms of revenue generators.
After last year's failed wet/dry referendum, city officials have looked at everything from property to sales tax increases. Some business leaders have said raising these taxes – especially sales taxes – would be detrimental to local business growth.
"Increased sales tax revenue for the city may keep us from further tax increases," she said.