Improved Sales Top Retailers' Holiday Wish Lists

At Cork and Beans in downtown Cleveland, a few lunchtime customers buy bottles of wine and bags of coffee. Owner Toni Orecchio says sales are looking up a bit compared to 2011…between 5 to 8 percent higher, she guesstimates.

“Perhaps people have a little bit more money in their pocket this year," she speculates. "Some businesses did get raises, that didn’t get raises the year before.”

Orrechio says she’s also increasing staff at the Euclid Avenue shop, to take on the increased holiday demand.

“We will be bringing in a part-time person to help with gift baskets, and I’ve already hired on a full-time person to help through the holiday season.”

But further down Euclid, shop owner Carole Stanley isn’t so optimistic.

“It’s really sad and very disappointing,” she says, watching people and traffic pass by her window.

Stanley runs The Finer Things, a specialty clothing boutique at 12th and Euclid. She says between recent construction projects, and the downsizing or disappearance of local businesses, things have been hard for her.

“And also because it’s retail and its women’s clothing….when things are bad, that’s the first thing women stop doing, is shopping!" laughs Stanley. "So I’m first cut on the list, which is not good either!”

Stanley says for the last four years, holiday sales have not been good for The Finer Things and she’ll be lucky to match last years’ figures.

Overall though, retailers are hopeful. A recent survey by networking site Manta says 43 percent of small business owners expect to see an increase in holiday sales, while 34 percent think they’ll stay the same. But only 13 percent planned to hire holiday help.

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