By Tonya Garner
The parking lot at North Plains Mall was nowhere near filled to capacity Friday. Inside, the mall was sparsely populated with seemingly relaxed shoppers browsing available merchandise.
Mall employee Brandi Chambers said she believes gross receipts are down from previous years because consumers are choosing to shop online. Chambers, who was operating the cash register at Hibbett Sports, said although sales have picked up the last few days, overall sales have only been “so-so.”
“Internet sales are up 32 percent,” Chambers said, “which has affected our in-store sales.”
The young mall worker said the hot items for her particular store are Denver Broncos jerseys and the “latest, greatest, athletic shoes,” known as shocks.
Hot Topic, a small store specializing in band and television T-shirts, was teeming with teenagers checking out the latest offerings in “punk-rock” fashion.
Store employee Mary Hales said holiday sales have been pretty good although it is difficult to compare sales to previous years since the store only opened last year.
“We’ve done pretty good,” Hale said. ‘I’ve sold a lot of pink shirts for the guys.”
Joyce Jeter, J.C. Penny associate for 16 years, said gift cards have been the most popular purchase for shoppers.
“Everyone has been buying gift cards,” Jeter said. “$50 seems to be the most popular amount.”
Rachel Alvarado, owner of Rachel’s Fashion on Main Street, said shoes and wigs have been popular items chosen as gifts from her store.
“I’ve sold quite a few ponytails,” Alvarado said, “but my sales are definitely down from last year.”
Alvarado added she believes gross receipts are down not only locally, but across the entire nation.
“I’ve talked to the businesses I order my products from,” Alvarado said, “and their sales are down, too.”
Buz Goodson, manager of Bar G Western Wear in Portales, reported his sales have been less than he expected, too.
“Our yearly sales were up from previous years,” Goodson said, “but Christmas sales are down.”
Goodson attributes the downslide in sales to the unusually warm weather. “I think the warm weather made people decide to travel,” Goodson said. “Either that or they are shopping out of town.”