HUDSON – After the 2020 Christmas shopping season hit the depths of the pandemic just days before Christmas 2021, local retailers are optimistic about the sales increase seen last month.
In Columbia County, Chamber of Commerce President Bill Gerlach said he had also heard positive news from local retailers.
“We don’t have any scientific numbers yet, but people tell me orally that they are having a good season,” said Gerlach. âFrom what I’ve observed, I think the traffic was very heavy in places like Chatham and Hudson. We don’t have any VAT numbers now, but I just generally have a good feeling about what I hear from dealers. “
Gerlach took over his current position in May, so he couldn’t compare this Christmas shopping season with 2020.
“But let’s be honest, last year we were in the middle of the fire with COVID at that time,” he said. âI can only assume that bad news about COVID is driving news online because people don’t go out and don’t want to be in stores. But I don’t have that feeling this year. I think the churches are very busy. “
At his store named after him on Warren Street in Hudson, Mikel Hunter said sales in his store were good.
“In-store shopping has taken off because people are fed up with online shopping,” he said on Friday. âYou want to touch cashmere and have fun shopping. Do you remember when shopping was fun? Now I’m scared of going to the supermarket. “
Rebecca O’Donnell, owner of The Quiet Botanist dried flower store in Hudson, said Christmas sales have been brisk.
“We were insanely busy,” she said on Friday.
O’Donnell added that her shop has been particularly busy the past week.
âThere’s always a last minute rush,â she said.
“It was good,” said Kira Goldfarb, owner of Cat on the Corner in Catskill, on Thursday. âIt started around Thanksgiving on Black Friday, and it’s been recovering for the past week. I stayed open all week which I don’t usually do. They had the Solstice Stroll this week and I wasn’t sure what the turnout would be like, but it was really good. “
Shops on Main Street in Catskill also got a boost on Tuesday night when Cultivate Catskill hosted its first Solstice Stroll, where residents listened to free music from bagpipers and enjoyed the Christmas lights on the town’s main thoroughfare. Local stores extended their hours of operation to 7 p.m. Tuesday to take advantage of the influx of potential customers strolling down Main Street.
“I’d say it’s pretty stable,” said Kristi Gibson, owner of the Magpie Bookshop in Catskill, on Thursday. âIt was about the same as last year, more or less. We got a lot of townspeople up here for the holidays. So December is one of our busiest months of the year. “
Goldfarb said their cat-oriented gift shop, which opened in February 2020, saw an improvement in sales over the 2020 holiday season.
“I think it’s a little better than last year,” she said. âWe have a lot more products here that we’re promoting on social media so I think this year was better. We’ve tried to get a lot more Christmas items this year, and we’ve extended our opening hours this week. “
Greene County’s Chamber of Commerce president Jeff Friedman said he had heard from members of the organization that sales had been stable since Black Friday.
“Pretty much every retailer I’ve spoken to had a solid holiday season,” Friedman said. “Sales have been good and strong so I think it’s been a good season.”
Friedman said it was too early to know how the final Christmas season numbers will play out.
“It’s a little early because the numbers aren’t together yet,” he said. âWe’ll know more in probably three or four weeks when the numbers are finally there. Even the companies themselves didn’t have time to digest whether it was better or worse. “
The head of the Chamber of Commerce noted that the continued spike in COVID due to the Omicron variant has created some concern among local stores.
“Companies are really concerned about this,” Friedman said. âYou notice that some customers are concerned about this. Not all customers, but there is certainly a segment that is showing concern. I think this is something that we need to keep a close eye on. It’s something that could potentially have an impact in the coming months. Hopefully people will do the right thing and mask themselves and help get those numbers under control and we’ll be able to get back to more normal operations. “
Pat Walsh, co-owner of Swamp Angel Antiques in Catskill, said the pandemic hadn’t had a major impact on his store.
“This year has been very busy for us,” said Walsh on Friday. âOur business is not as badly affected by COVID because we closed for three months last year. Otherwise we were busy. We have more to do this year because a lot of new people have moved to the city. “
Reporters Natasha Vaughn-Holdridge and Noah Eckstein contributed to this story.