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Store owners seeing improvement in holiday sales



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SANDY -- With two days left until Christmas, malls and stores everywhere are packed. Store managers are saying it's busier than last year, but there is still a long ways to go before the economy is back.

Though not everyone thinks the holiday is all fun and games, adults looking for good deals can hit the jackpot this time of year.

"It's been pretty good; some good sales out there," said Sandy resident Natalie Stevenett.

"It's been so busy, like today feels like a Saturday," said Kayla Thurman, who works at the Green Tea Store in South Towne Mall.

With just two days until Christmas, stores at the South Towne Mall are doing almost anything to get those last-minute dollars from last-minute shoppers -- like Tara Jewkes, who also lives in Sandy.

"Every year I say I'm going to get it done in October, and I wait until two days before," Jewkes said.

Brigham City resident Keith Keller said he has been done Christmas shopping for a while, but his wife still managed to get him to the mall.

"Fun for my wife is coming to the mall two days before Christmas," Keller said. "That makes it more fun for me, apparently."

Every shopper we spoke to smiled when asked about Christmas shopping with two days left, but they all turned a little more serious when asked about their budgets and the economy this year.

"[We're] cutting back. Everybody seems to be cutting back," Jewkes said.

Jim Lauscher has been running the Village Christmas Shoppe at Gardner Village in West Jordan for 13 years now.

"Everybody understands money is a little tighter this year," he said. "It's been better than last year; not as good as it was two years ago. The economy is still in a slump, you can tell."

He said small mom-and-pop shops like his have to pinch pennies to make it work. They have no national chain to fall back on.

"We just can't go out and borrow out of poor sales, or whatever. We need to sell the stuff to stay in business," Lauscher said. "I'm really looking forward to next year. I think that's going to be the turn."

Every store worker or manager we spoke with said the same thing: Business is better this year than last year, but still way off from 2007. It will be interesting to get those final numbers once the holiday shopping season is over.

E-mail: acabrero@ksl.com

Alex Cabrero

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