Local shoppers boost business at the mall

By Jenna DeWitt: Freedom New Mexico

If shopping at North Plains Mall is any indication, it’s beginning to look a lot like economic recovery this holiday season.

Mall Manager Cindy Banister said it appears Clovis area retailers are fairing better than other areas of the country hit hard by the global economic downturn.

“Our sales were up 20 percent in 2008,” Banister said. “We are still showing an increase for 2009.”

Banister said the mall’s distance from larger retail centers may be a factor.

“We are in a different situation. People aren’t going out of town to shop,” she said. “Keep Clovis shoppers in Clovis. That’s what we say, citywide.”

A recent sampling of shoppers and retailers at the mall appear to confirm Banister’s observations.

“We try to shop in town. There is good selection in the stores,” said Alan Dropps, director of music education for Clovis schools, who shopped the mall Monday.

Sears employees said expansion at Cannon Air Force Base could be another factor.

“With all the people coming in from the base, it hasn’t hit us hard,” said Curt Ericson in the lawn, garden, hardware and fitness department. He said judging from his more than two years at Sears, sales might be lower than expected but “not compared to the rest of the U.S. We are doing especially well for our region.”

Ericson’s co-worker, Connie Kelly, said comparatively, it has been a good year.

“We are pretty stable here,” she said. “It’s not credit cards as much, mainly cash and checks, which could mean people in Clovis are just smarter about it.”

Dillard’s employees said they notice more shoppers asking about price before deciding to buy it.

“It seems like people are more worried about what they are spending,” cosmetics consultant Marissa Garcia said.

Banister said while sales are improving, employment has been affected.

“A lot of stores have had to cut back. We just haven’t had any openings recently,” she said.

Banister said stores and mall management have made extra efforts to encourage shoppers and it is paying off.

“They all have sales and are doing everything they can, including gifts with purchase. We did $10 gift cards on Black Friday and two weeks before we did an e-mail blast with $10 gift cards to our e-mail club,” Banister said.

Monday the mall held their last promotion of the holiday season, giving away gift cards for two movie passes to anyone who spent $250 or more. Shoppers could turn in their receipts from any mall retailer, as long as purchases were made that day.

Banister said 70 gift cards were issued.