CHRISTMAS sales have picked up on early trade but Warrnambool retailers say the next fortnight will be the real test.
Festive shoppers are snapping up summer clothing, paperback novels, colourful ties and small craft items before December 25, with long-term business owners seeing an upswing in consumer confidence.
City shopkeepers told The Standard yesterday that 2012 was a flat year for trade due to weak economic conditions but said 2013 was already proving to be a stronger year for sales.
Boolistic owner-manager Amber Peters said trade had been reasonably strong at the gift and clothing shop during the past fortnight.
She said smaller gifts for office Kris Kringles were popular, as well as lightweight clothing for summer.
“Business has been similar to last year but the last two weeks have been good,” Ms Peters said.
“Small gifts such as purses and earrings are popular. People are looking for presents around the $30 to $35 range, whether that’s for office Kris Kringles or neighbours or whatever.”
Annie’s Gifthouse owner-manager Annie Freitag said a steady stream of customers had been through the Koroit Street business during the past month.
She said picture frames and jewellery boxes were sought after.
“We’ve had plenty of interest in smaller home wares. Picture frames are something that plenty of people appreciate,” Mrs Freitag said.
“Mums plan ahead so we’ve had plenty that have come in and bought their presents in advance. It’s always a smart move, because it gets very busy in the last week before Christmas.”
Pitstop Menswear manager Alex Bright said south-west residents were adjusting to the warmer weather and making the switch to lighter clothing.
She said bold colour ties, short-sleeved paisley shirts and French navy two-piece suits were popular this season.
“The last couple of weeks have really picked up compared to earlier in the year,” Ms Bright said.
“I think as you get closer to Christmas, people start to think about what they’ll wear on the actual day and then after that, heading into summer.”
Mix Ladies Fashion manager Alison Wade said there were more shoppers browsing along the main streets of Warrnambool over the past fortnight.
She said playsuits, white sandals and monochrome tops were proving popular with fashion-conscious shoppers.
“People really think about what they’re going to wear for Christmas — it adds to the special occasion,” Ms Wade said.
“The weather has been pretty miserable over October and November but now summer’s finally here, there’s more people out shopping.”