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Holiday shopping season takes shape in Hampton Roads

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NORFOLK, Va. — Folks are turning out in Hampton Roads to make some holiday purchases.

Amid dozens of holiday displays, you’ll spot shopper Stuart Lee. He’s carefully choosing gifts for some who can be hard to shop for.

“If they need it, they already bought it for themselves, there’s somebody that can fit in that [category]. And somebody who wants something that’s a little nicer than they’d buy for themselves,” said Lee who was shopping in Norfolk.

He says he stops in Norfolk’s Mary Barnett’s each year.

“I like shopping in person,” said Lee. “It’s more personalized.”

Mary Barnett’s been run by Nancy Ware’s family since 1945.

“So how important is the holiday season for a business like yours?” asked News 3 reporter Erika Craven.

“It’s the big one. And most retailers the fourth quarter of the year is the big time anyway. But for us, we are seasonal. So we do a bang-up Christmas business and fourth quarter is make or break,” said Nancy Ware, co-owner/president at Mary Barnett’s.

And this year?

“Nothing compares to prior to the pandemic, I think people learned how to shop online. But I can’t complain. We’ve been busy,” said Ware.

Online and in person, 200.4 million people have already hit the stores between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, according to the National Retail Federation.

Retailers hope folks come out in Hampton Roads too.

Early results from the Retail Alliance’s Retail Pulse Survey show that 48% of retailers in Hampton Roads expect growth in holiday sales compared to last year and 50% expect to see growth in online sales.

That’s as digital marketing has taken the lead over traditional marketing. The survey also reports that while most retailers are nervous about long-term staffing, many said they’re not dealing with the supply chain issues that we saw during the pandemic. The majority of retailers report said inventory is in and ready to be taken home.

Staff say they’re always glad when people shop local.

“We can wrap the present. We can help somebody find something they need. And you can’t do that online. You can touch it and feel it before you buy it,” said Ware.

Mary Barnett’s sees the most traffic early in the holiday season and then again on December 26 when items go on sale. So, with gifts wrapped and in hand, early shopper Stuart’s just one of many making progress on his list.

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