MANCHESTER - The holiday shopping season is in full swing now that Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone. According to Pew Research Group, around the country, Black Friday sales were lower than in year's past, with Americans projected to spend inividually $704 on Christmas gifts this year, as opposed to $770 last year. While Americans may be spending less, some local retailers said they still had great sales over the holiday weekend.

Ron Mancini, owner of Mother Myrick's said this year's Black Friday saw a higher volume of business and bigger sales than last year. Unlike some retailers, they did not offer any special sales or deals.

"We had a very strong weekend," Mancini said. "We just continue to offer great customer service.

Shoppers converged on Manchester over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, causing some traffic congestion.
Shoppers converged on Manchester over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, causing some traffic congestion. (Andrew McKeever photo)
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Each year, Mother Myrick's holiday business starts to increase about 10 days before Thanksgiving, as people prepare for the holidays. This year, some of the popular products are the butter crunch, sea salt caramels and of course, the lemon lulu cake, he said. Until Christmas, the retail location will have some extended hours that will be updated via Facebook, Mancini said.

Another area retailer, The Mountain Goat, had one of their busiest Black Friday's ever. Alicia Lano, the office manager, said they had a lot of in-person business. While The Mountain Goat has a website, it is not set up as an store, she said.

"We didn't have any black Friday sales or promotions...we extended out hours from 10 to 6 to 9 to 7," she said.

Berta McGinnis, executive director of the Manchester and the Mountains Chamber of Commerce said overall, retailers were busy on Friday and Saturday. This year, like last year, the chamber helped to promote Small Business Saturday, an event put on by American Express to encourage shoppers to buy from local businesses.

"We gave all our chamber members small business mats for outside, to identify as a small business," she said.

The Northshire Bookstore promoted Small Business Saturday as well, featuring books chosen by independent booksellers across the country. They also have an online presence, and owner Chris Morrow said they did see a pick up in sales, both in person and online, but they did not do any promotions like some national retailers.

"We focus on what we do well, creating an atmosphere people want to be in [and] offering a selection people want," he said.

Eliot Orton, one of the owners of The Vermont Country Store, said this year they did something different to start off the holiday shopping season. Employees were given coupons to pass our to relatives and neighbors to use the last few weeks. Traditionally, he said, the store does not do many promotions or sales over the Black Friday weekend, but they will start to sell more holiday merchandise and have small promotions to entice buyers. Orton said this weekend was good for business, as well as to get people in the Christmas spirit. At the Weston store on Saturday, a group of classical musicians actually staged a Christmas carol flash mob, he said.

"We are all about being a family owned local business," Orton said. "For a lot of customers, coming into the store really puts them in the holiday mood."