Last Minute Shopping

Some holiday changes are paying off for local merchants. According to officials at Bonita Lakes Mall in Meridian, holiday sales are up for most retailers.

When the mall opened at 7 AM on the day before Christmas, customers arrived early.

"I'm just now starting to shop and I feel lost as a goose!" says Glenn Walker of Meridian.

There were other shoppers at the mall who were there to strictly pick up a few last minute gifts.

"I've spent about $500 in all for Christmas, and that's what I budgeted to spend," says Emmanuel Gatling of Collinsville.

"Overall, we think it's going to be a great holiday season for us," says Renee Williams, who is the general manager for Bonita Lakes Mall.
She credits the two extra days for shopping and extended hours for some stores, as key reasons for this year's increase in sales.

"The retailers that opened at midnight on Black Friday, it was one of their best days that they've had," says Williams.

Belk is one of the stores that opened at midnight on Black Friday. It also stayed open until midnight on some days. According to mall officials, stores generally determine whether or not to stay open based on the needs of the clientele. For local stores that opened early and closed later than usual, the changes are making a difference.

'It has worked for some," says Larry Payne, who has managed the JCPenney store at the mall for 15 years. "Obviously, some of the toy chains have stayed open for almost 24 hours," he says. "We're making plans to be in the black. So, we're encouraged. We're hoping that in 2013 the economy will continue to progress."

"I think the opening earlier and closer later trend is here to stay," mall manager, Renee Williams. "I think, looking down the road, we'll definitely look at more earlier openings, especially on the peak shopping days."

Last, but certainly not least, mall officials say deep discounts have played a major role in boosting sales.

'I'm spending more this year,' says Emmanuel Gatling. "I'm being more liberal. It's been better with lower prices!'

Bonita Lakes Mall will close at 6 PM on Christmas Eve. It will reopen the day after Christmas at 8 AM and close at 10 PM on that day.