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Guarded optimism among local retailers

By By Steve Swogetinsky/The Meridian Star
Nov. 18, 2001
The results of a nationwide survey of shopping center retailers and real estate analysts indicate a pessimistic attitude heading into the Christmas season.
Of those surveyed by the International Council of Shopping Centers, no one thought this was going to be a good Christmas season for sales, while 35 percent predicted a fair one. The rest said it would be "disappointing" at best, or poor.
Another view
The interviewers apparently didn't talk to Bonita Lakes Mall manager Bob Jenkins. In fact, Jenkins said that sales have grown in recent months, despite the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and continuing reports about the weakened economy.
Jenkins said that August sales were up 4 percent for August and 7 percent for September of this year as compared to the same time last year. They continued to climb to 7.8 percent in October.
Since the announcement that the new Super Wal-Mart Center was going to open near the mall, Jenkins has predicted it would be profitable for both. "I think this confirms that this will be a healthy relationship for both," he said.
For the year, Jenkins said the mall is shooting for a 5 percent increase in sales and profit. Earlier this month, he said they were at 3 percent. "We've been up every month but one this year. I think we can make it," Jenkins said.
Promotions and events such as recent the circus and the Christmas parade around the mall are important for keeping customers coming to the mall, Jenkins said.
Mall occupancy is almost at 100 percent with the only empty store being the former ice cream counter on the food court. There are three vacancies at Bonita Lakes Crossing, but Jenkins predicted new businesses would be opening soon.
What's hot?
Video game hardware and software, along with entertainment products such as CDs and videos/DVDs are expected to be the top sellers this year, according to the survey.
Steve Swogetinsky is regional editor of The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3217, or e-mail him at sswogetinsky@themeridianstar.com.

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