The gifts are unwrapped and the shopping rush is mostly over, but we'll have to wait a few more days to get a conclusive look at how the holiday shopping season actually fared.
So far it's a mixed bag, with some organizations reporting the smallest sales increase in years, yet several local retailers said they were happy with the season.
"We held our own," said Larry Grossi, owner of Bear Creek Gifts in Old Town Clovis.
Holidays sales were about even with last year, he said. Crowds were bigger, but the average amount spent per purchase was lower, he said.
"I think there's too much uncertainty (about) economic conditions in general," he said.
But Grossi was happy with 2012 overall.
"We were very fortunate," he said. "The year was much better."
Throughout the season, customers have expressed worry about economic uncertainties such as the fiscal cliff, retailers said. Just how much of an effect those worries have on overall spending remains to be seen.
Midway through December, research firm ShopperTrak lowered its original holiday sales forecast for November and December to a 2.5% increase -- down from 3.3%. The firm cited heavy discounting in stores and the effect of Hurricane Sandy.
And a MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse report released this past week estimated a modest 0.7% increase nationally in sales from Oct. 30 to Dec. 24 -- below last year's figures for the same time period and far below the 4.1% increase predicted by the National Retail Federation.
The MasterCard report included the effect of Hurricane Sandy, with people more concerned with their safety than Christmas shopping. But it also showed Pacific Coast states fared much better than the MasterCard's national average, rising 2.4%, the report said.
The MasterCard report also only measured key holiday categories such as apparel, electronics, online sales, jewelry and furnishing, which make up only about 30% to 35% of the bigger retail picture that the retail federation tracks, vice president of research and analysis Michael McNamara, noted in a written statement.
The retail federation will release its holiday season numbers Jan. 15.
The owner of Fig Garden Village's Top Drawer store said she was happy with the holiday season. People were cautious about how much they spent on the brightly colored Vera Bradley handbags, luggage and accessories the store carries, but they still bought plenty given overall economic conditions, Jane Saunders said.
"I think the cup is more half full than half empty," she said. "Look at the world in which we're living. If you can just hold your own, that's a positive. If you can increase a little bit, that's a positive."
And the holiday season is not as important to retailers overall health as it once was. In the 1980s, November and December sales sometimes made up more than 25% of all sales. But that number has steadily dropped over the years, due in part to gift card spending, according to the International Council of Shopping Center.
The post-Christmas shopping rush has yet to be tallied.
River Park was packed with shoppers Wednesday, with the top level of the parking garage and the parking lot behind the theater -- which the center uses to gauge how busy the center is -- packed full by noon.
"The last couple of days we've seen a lot of foot traffic," said River Park property manager Whitney Buford. "I think a lot of people are spending those gift cards they got as gifts."
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