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For retailers, it’s the most wonderful time of the year

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By Ryan Conley

Make a list, check it more than twice: Retailers spend a lot of time figuring out what to sell during the holiday shopping season.

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A typical United States family will spend $689 on gifts during the next month, according to the National Retail Federation, and merchants spend months planning ways to get a slice of that financial pie.

“Theoretically, we should do 20 percent of our business in the next four weeks; we are looking for a pretty good Christmas,” Goody’s district manager Bob Moberly said. “But we are like farmers: We cry about the weather a lot. It’s hard to sell flannels and wools when it’s 75 degrees outside. We need those 30-degree mornings.”

For large retailers such as Walmart, developing holiday strategies are an intensive piece of business acumen conducted at the highest corporate levels. Shelbyville store manager David Woodcock said that while those plans are put together on a nationwide scale, actual inventory may vary from store to store.

“Obviously for events like this, we have a large influx of products,” he said. “The actual mix is gauged by the size of the store and the sale volumes. Each store quantity is going to be different than the store down the street.”

Woodcock said his store is preparing its employees for the anticipated increased workload during the coming weeks.

“It’s more about scheduling the right amount of people for when customers are here,” he said. “But typically staffing does pick up during the holiday season, whatever is needed to meet the demands of customer service.”

Goody’s mobilized an extra set of workers earlier this week to help stock the store before today’s traditional “Black Friday” start to the season.

“We have the whole staff out here unloading the trucks,” Shelbyville store manager Tanya Moss said. “The three days before are always the roughest, because you want to get everything out and organized, and where it needs to go.”

Some retailers have already seen a boost from the coming holiday season. Included is Wakefield-Scearce Galleries, which held its annual open house extravaganza Nov. 3-5.

“We have had a very good season so far,” said Patti Wilson, who is the visual coordinator for the business located in the Science Hill complex in downtown Shelbyville. “It’s very encouraging; probably the best open house we have had in three or four years.”

Wakefield-Scearce has also unveiled its annual Yule Shop, which for the first time, has a home in the former children’s gallery rooms. Another first for the business is the opening of the gates of its main room to the rest of the building.

Wilson, who has been at Wakefield-Scearce for 25 years, said that while the antiques portion of the business is steady year-round, demand for “new” products spikes during the holiday rush, particularly for the other shops in Science Hill.

“Our volume goes up, the inventory levels go up," she said. "We do see some big (antique) pieces go out of here, but for the small shops, they really count on the season."

And don’t forget about how those gifts are going to find their way under the Christmas tree. Renee Clark, who owns The UPS Store in Village Plaza shopping center, said her shipping business increases up to 70 percent over the rest of the year.

“Shipping will almost double every year – it’s already started,” said Clark, whose business also offers a variety of services, such as document copying, and sells shipping supplies. “You never know if it’s related to Thanksgiving, because people make treats to send and so forth. I’ve seen a few packages, but nothing like we will see after Thanksgiving.”

In anticipation, Clark plans for increased help during the season.

“My college kids are home,” she said of her temporary beefed-up work force. “We just about double our labor for two to three weeks.”

Walmart’s Woodcock sums up the impact of the season best for Shelby County merchants.

“It’s a great time of year for us in retail,” he said.