Discounts lure shoppers into stores a day after Christmas

Long lines continued in Kingman stores after Christmas as local shoppers took advantage of deep discounts.

Longest lines were the traditional return and exchange customers back in the stores Thursday, the day after Christmas.

Lines for returns had shortened by midday in most stores.

"It was a good season that put us in the better percentile among our company's stores," said Cindy Boytor, a Kingman manager.

"Business was brisk and the customers were making every dollar count."

She said total sales were up from last year, but less than projected.

Customers were cautious and shied away from luxury items.

"I have seen the same thing in other years with war or when the economy was tight," Boytor said.

A local manager of a national retailer said local sales were better than the national projections that indicate the worst Christmas season in 30 years.

"It was not gangbusters," he said.

"Sales were up over last year, but the season was soft.

Trucks still deliver merchandise, but they are smaller."

Michael P.

Niemira, vice president of Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi Ltd., expects same-store sales for the combined November and December period to be up only 1.5 percent from the year before.

National Retail Federation this week scaled back its forecast for total holiday sales, which exclude the restaurant and auto categories.

It now expects sales to be up 3.5 percent, instead of 4 percent.

Nationally, Wal-Mart Stores, the world's largest retailer, said Thursday that it has reduced its December forecast for sales at stores open at least a year.

Those figures are known as same-store sales.

Internet sales were a bright spot.

According to BizRate.com, a comparison-shopping site that tracks sales at 2,000 Web sites, online sales from Nov.

1 through Dec.

23 grew 41 percent to $12 billion from $8.48 billion a year ago.

But even the good news has a down side.

Kingman Mayor Les Byram said cities and state governments all over the U.S.

are concerned about the loss of local sales tax revenue to Internet sales.

All in all, Kingman's holiday sales seemed better than much of the nation.

Kingman Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Beverly Liles said that Kingman is traditionally immune to general downturns in the economy.