The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

December 3, 2013

Local stores seeing green thanks to the crimson and the blue

By Budd McLaughlin
bud@athensnews-courier.com

ATHENS —

On Cyber Monday, customers didn’t wait until the last second to order their Auburn and Alabama apparel.

Some local merchants said their online sales were strong, following up successful results from Brown Thursday, Black Friday and Small Business Saturday.

“Online is going well,” said Cory Bennett of Bennett’s Clothing in downtown Athens. “We’ll probably work late (Monday night).”

Mark Griggs of Gray & Holt Dry Goods, also on the square in Athens, said it was a good weekend for the store going into Saturday afternoon.

“It’s been good the whole weekend, until about 2 Saturday,” Griggs said. The store closed at 2 p.m. for the Iron Bowl.

“Here in Alabama, Saturday shopping was concentrated in the morning hours,” said Nancy King Dennis of the Alabama Retail Association. “Shopping comes to a standstill in our state during the Iron Bowl.

“Many restaurants and other businesses had the game on to attract business and the stores that sold game day shirts sold out quickly after the game of the century.”

For fans, Gray & Holt will have an Iron Bowl design shirt in stock this morning.

“We’ve got one design coming,” Griggs said. “It will have the score on it and something else.”

Overall, Bennett said it was a “really good weekend” for his store, too, and not just for the team apparel.

“Black Friday was a little better than last year all across the board,” he said.

But the Crimson Tide and Tigers (apparel) didn’t hurt sales, either.

“Alabama and Auburn are definitely driving sales,” Bennett said. “Auburn is up this year, of course, and Alabama is always up.”

Small Business Saturday began in 2010 and has grown each year here, according to Jennifer Williamson, president of the Greater Limestone County Chamber of Commerce.

“We are glad to see our businesses do well this weekend, even with the Iron Bowl,” she said. “Every year we’ve seen it gain in popularity and we are proud to support Small Business Saturday.”

Nationally, Cyber Monday was expected to be the busiest online shopping day of the year. Online sales account for about 10 percent of total holiday spending, which is expected to grow about 3.9 percent to $602.1 billion for the months of November and December, according to research firm comScore.

“Online, we’ve been pretty busy,” Griggs said. 

However, spending over the four-day shopping holiday that began Thanksgiving was predicted to be down for the first time, according to the National Retail Federation.

The trade group predicted more than 131 million people will shop online Monday, up about 2 percent from last year, while it said spending over the four days that ended Sunday would be down 2.9 percent to $57.4 billion.

“Shoppers remain conservative and bargain conscious,” Dennis said. “They are looking for the best deals for the items on their holiday shopping lists.”