By Dr. Scott Alsobrooks, PRCC
The Picayune Item
Christmas can be an extreme sport for small businesses. Retailers have to go into turbo mode to compete. Most retail businesses open for longer hours and hire more part time workers to keep up with demand. It seems that online sales will force all in-person stores into extinction, but according the National Retail Federation (NRF) only about 7 percent of annual retail sales are made via online shopping. Most businesses still rely on that walk-in-shopper for their core business. Seasonal Christmas shopping also amasses a large percentage of a retailer’s annual sales. The NRF indicates that almost 20% of a retailer’s total sales volume occurs during the Christmas season.
Plus, getting out-and-about is part of the fun of with the whole Christmas experience. Seeing the beautifully decorated Christmas trees, colorful lights, wreaths and of course Santa Claus is quite fun, especially for children. Picayune Memorial High School even made it possible to ice skate this year by bringing in a pseudo skating rink. No better way to get pumped up for Christmas than to ice skate in the winter wonderland at Jack Read Park.
According to the State of Mississippi's Department of Revenue, Pearl River County has seen a small but steady increase in sales tax collections in the General Merchandise and Retail Sales categories for holiday shopping. In December 2009, General Merchandise and Miscellaneous Retail Sales were $12,651,429. In December 2010 they were $12,766,776 and in December 2011 they were $13,089,218.
Before the Great Recession in fiscal year 2008, Pearl River County accounted for a total of $15,012,327 in General Merchandise and Retail Sales. It would be a great boost to local businesses if we could approach that figure again. The goal for those local business people who are working long hours and hiring extra temporary workers is to continue the upward trend.
I hope this Christmas season finds everyone healthy, happy and out-and-about making local cash registers go jingle, jingle, jingle.
(Dr. Alsobrooks currently serves as the Vice President of Economic and Community Development at Pearl River Community College.)