Local businesses see increase in shoppers despite COVID pandemic

Published: Dec. 27, 2021 at 4:46 PM EST
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Holiday shoppers showed up, and showed out this holiday season.

A new report from Mastercard shows holiday sales rose 8.5 percent compared to last year.

That counts sales between November 1 and Christmas Eve. The credit card company says clothing sales helped drive the surge.

It also found people shopped earlier this year and many turned to brick-and-mortar stores. In fact, in-store sales jumped more than 8 percent compared to last year. Online shopping still saw a huge bump - accounting for nearly 21 percent of total sales.

And all that spending gave some local businesses a much-needed boost.

Whether it’s shoppers using gift cards they got or spending holiday cash, or even taking advantage of after Christmas deals, this commercial stretch and others around town were bustling this weekend according to the Savannah Downtown Business Association.

Aleksandra’s Gift Shop is one Broughton Street store that’s seeing steady business this holiday season.

“Lots of people, it’s been very busy actually. Quite steady,” said Terry Christenbury with Aleksandra’s Gift Shop.

Christenbury says this year is a 180 compared to holiday shopper traffic last year, especially with Broughton Streetscape construction finished up out front.

“The construction last year, and it moving up a little bit, people have definitely been coming in a little bit more than they were last year.

We also spoke with the executive director of the Savannah Downtown Business Association who also reported a much different scene the day after Christmas compared to last year.

“There were pockets of people last year, but certainly not anything like yesterday. And people were in a good mood, it was so nice to just see everybody feeling the holiday spirit and with bags and shopping. And it was a great scene yesterday,” said Jackie Schott, executive director of the Savannah Downtown Business Association.

Schott went as far to say this year after Christmas shopping had the look and feel of shopping pre-pandemic. And it wasn’t just big name chains getting all the attention.

“Sometimes there’s lots of people downtown, but you don’t see people carrying a lot. And I mean people literally had three, four, five bags in their hands yesterday. And a lot of local bags, which was really nice to see. A lot of our local businesses from downtown, I saw their logos on bags and recognized things from their stores that were in peoples hands.”

There’s still a downtown business bingo card promotion happening through New Years Eve where you can win prizes as you fill those cards out.

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