East Texas retailers reporting banner holiday shopping season

By Morgan Thomas - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – The weeks just before Christmas, you'd never know we're in a sluggish economy. However, for most of the year, East Texans didn't do much shopping.

"In 2010 our sales tax we're down about 4% to what it was in 2009," said Angelina County Judge Wes Suiter.

Yet, the latest East Texas sales figures show revenue may finally be turning around.

"We far exceeded our expectations for the season which is exciting news in a struggling economy we're always happy to hear that and see that," said Kris Hoepfner, Lufkin Target Store Manager.

Hoepfner says holiday shopping got off strong.

"Starting from the two-day sale we had the day after Thanksgiving and the Saturday after that we had one of the biggest sales days in the history of our store,"said Hoepfner.

The larger retailers in the area weren't the only ones excited by sales gains in December. Small Businesses like Lufkin's new Apricot Lane in the Fashion District were also excited by the turn-out.

It was the first holiday sales season for the store, which opened in June.  Owner Aleck Bridwell wasn't sure what to expect.

"It was definitely good. Yeah, it was definitely a great season. I was very pleased," said Bridwell.

That's great news for Judge Suiter, who also oversees the county budget.  If early reports are accurate, its also good news for those who pay property taxes, since the county receives a portion of sales tax revenue.

"It takes some of the burden off county residents when the sales tax is high. We don't need as much ad valorem tax to operate on," said Suiter.

Holiday sale successes could be the start of a trend for many retailers.

"What was a little surprising to us was the day after - yesterday - was the minimal number of returns that we had this year compared to last year," said Hoepfner.

Which means there's less impact on their gains in sales.

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