Sluggish Staunton Shopping

By: Amy Kehm
By: Amy Kehm

The hustle and bustle of holiday shopping usually means sweet success for Downtown Staunton. But shop owners say it's not the case this year. Less foot traffic means less than thrilled merchants.

"I've been in retail over 25 years now," says Brigitte Cowan - the owner of Holt's for the Home, "It continues to get more and more difficult as we continue to over retail."

Last year, Staunton extended its weekend shopping hours and drew crowds. That's not so this year.

Cowan maintains, "Too many stores, not enough shoppers."

One economist points out; it may just be the economy making this year worse than last.

"Overall, a lot of people still don't have jobs. And last year, we had our tax cut money that we could go and spend in the stores. And this year we don't," noted Noshua Watson of Fortune Magazine and Mary Baldwin College.

So if the peak shopping season isn't luring the shoppers in, merchants wonder, "When will this downtown see a resurgence?"

Watson points out, "We are doing better nationally, slightly, than we did last year. Sales are up, investment banks say, about three or four-percent."

Hopefully, that will show up downtown too.

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