The holiday shopping season is upon us. For local retail stores the season got off to a good start, but there's still plenty of catching up to do. For retail stores, the holiday shopping season can make up 20-percent of all sales for a given year. With big box stores like Target and Wal-Mart benefiting from major sales, smaller storeowners are putting an emphasis on buying local. “Friday, I had the best Friday I think I’ve ever had,” said Laura Lambert, owner of The Celtic Shop. “We actually had lots and lots of customers and we had good sales, so we were really, really happy about that,” stated Angela Carr of the Two Sisters Bookery. After a disappointing year the holiday retail season got off to a great start for local businesses. They're hoping that momentum carries them through the holidays and into next year. “This is an important time of year for us. I mean I don't like to base everything on sales and one time a year I want to have good sales all year round,” Carr said. When consumers shop at locally owned stores the money stays in the community. It also helps provide jobs and strengthen the local economy. “A lot of people think that here our best months are in the summer. You know, July and August. My very best month is always December,” Lambert said. Store owners say some shoppers make a point to spend their money at locally owned stores, and it doesn't go unnoticed. “It means a lot to us this year because we've kind of had a slow year,” Lambert said. Even with growing competition from online retailers, local storeowners are confident about the future. “I think brick and mortar stores will never go out of existence,” Carr said. This year some small business owners have been working with UNCW to encourage consumers to spend their money locally. Studies have shown that local retailers in cities with similar campaigns report larger increases in holiday sales than retailers in cities without the campaigns, which could mean a good holiday season is ahead.
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