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Victoria retailers say 2010 holiday shopping season outdid 2009

By ALLISON MILES
Jan. 6, 2011 at midnight
Updated Jan. 7, 2011 at 7:08 p.m.

Danielle Matula looks around the Buckle in Victoria Mall during semester break from the University of Texas. Dana Medina, store manager, said the store had a great  Christmas season.

VICTORIA'S SALES TAX TOTALS FOR 2010:January: $1.25 million

February: $1.94 million

March: $1.18 million

April: $1.31 million

May: $1.79 million

June: $1.43 million

July: $1.41 million

August: $1.81 million

September: $1.45 million

October: $1.54 million

November: $1.86 million

December: $1.25 million

Source: state comptroller's office website

VICTORIA SALES TAX ALLOCATIONS:2009: $18.82 million

2010: $18.24 million

Difference: -3.06%

Source: state comptroller's office website

Breanne Hoff and Danielle Matula wandered through The Buckle, meandering around displays of footwear, shirts and accessories.

The duo, home from college to visit their families, weren't on the lookout for anything in particular. Their major shopping took place throughout the holiday season.

"I bought a lot of clothes and gift cards for iTunes," said Matula, a student at the University of Texas-Austin. "I think I spent more than last year."

The city's December sales tax revenue came in below 2009's, but Victoria retailers say the shopping season came out ahead.

Victoria brought in $1.25 million in retail sales taxes in December, a 2.05 percent decrease from December of 2009's $1.28 million, according to data from the state comptroller's office.

December collections took place midway through the month and do not reflect the entire month's sales. They also include sales tax collections from sales on automobiles, groceries and the like.

The Buckle's holiday sales came in higher than 2009's, said Dana Medina, the store's manager. In fact, business was up all year.

Black Friday kicked off the store's busy holiday season, she said, and it kept up throughout December. The busiest days this year came Christmas week, as well as the day after Christmas.

"We still continue to have traffic," she said, in between assisting customers. "Not as much as during Christmas, but we're busy."

Blue jeans were the store's major commodities, Medina said, explaining they were in low supply until a Thursday delivery arrived. But that wasn't all that sold well.

"We ran out of gift cards and the company actually sent us double what we sold last year," she said. "It was crazy."

High Brehm Hats & Western Wear saw a healthy holiday season, too, with boots and matching belts taking their place as the store's best sellers, said Karen Gutierrez, a sales associate with the store.

"We all thought it was great," she said of the holiday season.

Gutierrez was not with the company last year, she said, and could not compare sales to 2009.

Victoria residents Richard and Dalia Mendez bought more gift items this holiday season, but said they spent about the same as in 2009. They shopped smart, taking advantage of coupons and sales whenever possible.

Dalia Mendez's new iPhone also helped score some deals, said Richard Mendez, a sales manager with Auto Zone. She took to the Internet to find deals.

Their top purchases this year? Electronics.

"We bought a lot of them this year," said Dalia Mendez, who works as a caregiver. "The grandkids got portable DVD players."

Regal Jewelers also saw a sales boost this season, said Irfan Motiwala, who co-owns the business with his brother, Sam Motiwala.

"We did a little better than last year," he said. "I think it's because the economy is improving. Customers are feeling a little more confident."

The Chamilia and Trollbead lines of jewelry were among the best-selling brands, Motiwala said, and engagement rings are always big sellers around the holidays.

"Diamond studs and diamond jewelry are our bread and butter," he said, explaining they sell year-round.

Motiwala said he expected business to continue improving in 2011.

"I'm optimistic about the coming year," he said. "I think it will be even better than the last one."

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