Shoppers Hit Stores

ST. MARYS — Sherry Warner had planned to do her Christmas shopping in Columbus on Friday, but the snow storm that blanketed the region changed her mind.

“I decided to shop local. I think the snow did everyone a favor,” she said.

Kohl’s associate Shelby Ruppert agreed, as heavy lines transformed the four customer service lanes, normally for returns, into checkout counters.

“This whole week has been crazy,” she said. “Tomorrow’s supposed to be awful.”

Michael Sims, store manager at the Sears in St. Marys, said he got a call Friday from his boss, saying the weekend foot traffic was predicted to be heavier than a usual Christmas as a large percentage of people had not done their Christmas shopping yet.

“He said, ‘This weekend’s going to be wild — make sure you’re staffed,” Sims said.

According to the National Retail Federation, Christmas sales are on track to outpace 2010 and 2011 numbers with clothing as the top gift this season, followed by electronics and books.

Fifty-three percent of Americans reported having already bought clothes for gifts compared to 42 and 43 percent in the last two years. For books and electronics, 43 percent had already bought, compared to 39 percent last year.

That’s on track with what Kohl’s associates noticed this season. Ruppert said the store sold a few toys but most purchases were clothing.

Randy and Colton Pace said they’d taken advantage of the snow day to shop — Colton Pace was out of school, and said he probably wouldn’t have shopped otherwise.

“We’d done some shopping before,” he said. “Just getting some last minute shopping done. It’s hard to say if we’d have done it otherwise. I guess it depends how much spirit you have to get it done.”

Not everyone was buying this year. Barbara Schnell took the day off to sip coffee and have a warm meal.

“My family has grown so big I can’t buy for them all,” she said. “For 54 years I had the holidays at my house with 30 or so people. Now my granddaughter does it. With the in-laws and outlaws I just can’t do it.”

Gerald Johns also enjoyed a shop-free day.

“Mine’s been done since October,” he said “My wife wanted the ‘Impossible Dreams’ Santa Claus. I got it for her, and some stuff for the stocking. She already has (the Santa).”

Bill Fisher opted to wait for the weekend.

“I’ve got a little to do yet,” he said.

When asked if the snow would stop him from making last minute purchases, he said no.

“I know what it is to be out in the cold,” Fisher said. “I worked construction.”