Retailers prep for uncertain season

Posted 10/29/08

Park Meadows mall is gearing up for a series of winter-long activities to entice customers to shop this holiday season during unstable economic …

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Retailers prep for uncertain season


Park Meadows mall is gearing up for a series of winter-long activities to entice customers to shop this holiday season during unstable economic times.

From laser light shows and ice sculptures to a grand parade for Santa Claus, the mall’s free events are part of a plan to attract shoppers who also want free family entertainment, said Pam Schenck, Park Meadows general manager.

“When you have a tough economic time, it’s really nice to be able to combine holiday tradition along with the task of shopping,” Schenck said.

While Schenck acknowledged the national trend in declining retail sales, she said management’s seasonal celebration is more about highlighting The Vistas — Park Meadows’s new outdoor expansion — than it is about weathering the economy.

“We had something new to celebrate before economic indicators told us to pay attention and offer more for the [holiday] season,” Schenck said.

The Vistas, with its one-of-a-kind retail approach is a silver lining during economic trouble.

Management said it hopes the outdoor “lifestyle” component offers people a cheaper getaway or retreat.

The Vistas will have a grand opening Nov. 8, complete with light shows, live music and ice sculptures.

But the shopping mall is not immune to retail sales fluctuation.

“We saw retail dips and trends early on and started planning for it,” Schenck said in a statement.

Nationwide retail sales took the biggest plunge in a year during the month of September, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. And consumers are projected to spend an average of $832.36 per shopper, a mere 1.9 percent more, on holiday-related shopping this year. It will be the lowest increase in planned spending since 2002, according to the National Retail Federation.

“I don’t see people shopping less this year,” Schenck said. “But I think they’ll be shopping more efficiently.”

Changes in consumer behavior at Park Meadows means changes in sales tax revenue for the City of Lone Tree.

“Lone Tree is fortunate because its elected officials have been cautious with their budgets from the very beginning of the city,” said Seth Hoffman, assistant city manager. “The council has directed that the budget contain a larger than normal working reserve that will allow us to weather a downturn in sales tax receipts. That said, we will be watching the retail market very closely.”

The shopping mall, and the big box stores that surround it, create a substantial sales tax base for Lone Tree.

To be prepared, city officials are projecting a zero-percent increase in revenue — the lowest projection to date.

“As far as the city’s revenues go, we have budgeted very conservatively to ensure that we don’t find ourselves in a precarious position later,” Hoffman said.

Another option the city is considering is delaying some capital project construction. That will only happen if necessary, according to city officials.

“I would estimate that we doubled our review to ensure that this budget is as lean as possible, while still meeting the needs of the community,” Hoffman said.

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