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Retailers, vendors are cashing in
Businesses report sales up over previous year
If Valentine’s Day retail sales are an indicator of the local economy, Porterville’s forecast looks rosy.
On Thursday, local shops and roadside vendors were abuzz with activity, as scores of gift-givers — many pressed for time — shelled out the big bucks for their sweethearts.
Though the National Retail Federation reported only a slight increase in expected sales this year, many local stores, including Stafford’s Famous Chocolates, the Flower Mill and David Horowitz Jewelry, reported a significant increase in sales when compared to 2012.
“I would say sales versus last year, up to this point, are probably up 30 to 40 percent,” Stafford’s owner Rob Taylor said.
For Stafford’s, the week leading up to Valentine’s Day is the equivalent of the entire month of December leading up to Christmas, Taylor said.
“In December, we do 25 percent of our sales for the year and then we’ll do another 20 to 25 percent just during the week leading up to Valentine’s Day, so yeah, it’s a lot more concentrated,” he said.
The local chocolate factory opened at 8 a.m. Thursday and had 12 people on staff.
“There won’t be a break. We’ve got anywhere from four to eight people in the store at one time,” Taylor said.
A similar scenario played out Thursday at the Flower Mill.
Joyce Crawford and her granddaughter Darnell Lee, said the local flower shop was her first and likely her only stop Thursday.
Crawford was shopping for her 98-year-old mother.
“I usually just get her flowers, but he has all these nice items this year,” she said. “I’ll probably spend about 25 to 35 percent more this year.”
Owner Daryl Walters worked swiftly and diligently on flower arrangements while his staff rushed to get antsy customers their pre-ordered gifts.
“The majority of our orders are pre-ordered this year,” Walters said, adding that his customers have been more organized this year.
While Walters wouldn’t provide figures as far as how much customers were spending on Valentine’s Day gifts on average, he said the market trend is “probably on the upswing.”
“It looks nice for the economy. It looks like it’s improving some,” he said.
Walters, who has owned the local flower shop for 12 years, and has seen his share of Valentine’s Day holidays, said sales this year have been really good.
“I believe this year is definitely above average,” he said.
David Horowitz, owner of David Horowitz Jewelry on Main Street, summed it up best.
“The whole week’s been awesome,” he said Thursday. “I’m selling wedding sets like water right now.”
Horowitz said this Feb. 14 holiday is the best he’s seen in a few years.
“This is our best Valentine’s Day in five or six years,” he said. “I think the economy is on the upswing and I think people are seeing where things really are and they’re comfortable spending money.”
He added that the store has seen at least a 50 or 60 percent improvement in sales over last year. Christmas, he said, was the same way.
“This year’s been awesome,” he said.
Contact Denise Madrid at 784-5000, Ext. 1047. Follow her on Twitter @DeniseMadrid_.