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Holiday Shopping Expectations for Charlottesville's Retail

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Businesses on the mall are looking ahead to the holidays Businesses on the mall are looking ahead to the holidays
Downtown Mall customers braving the dreary weather. Downtown Mall customers braving the dreary weather.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -

With the holiday season in full swing, it's a make or break time of year for many Charlottesville businesses.

Counting on the earnings from the season to stay afloat, many businesses can spend the holidays concerned for the months ahead.

“Usually you expect 20 percent of your sales for the whole year between Thanksgiving and Christmas,” says Joan Fenton, who owns businesses on Charlottesville's Downtown Mall. “If you don't make it in December, you don't have the money to survive in January and February.”

So far this holiday season, the Downtown Mall has experienced several dreary days, which some owners say can wash away profits.

“The weather is so critical to an outdoor pedestrian mall. Probably the last 10 days before Christmas nobody cares what the weather is like, but prior to that they will sit inside if it's not great,”says Fenton.

While hurting the sales for some shops, the rain can do just the opposite for others in the area.

Lisa McEwan, the co-owner of Hot Cakes says, “We always count on being a little bit busy if it's a rainy day, so maybe that's worked in our favor cause we've had a lot of rainy ones.”

National forecasts for the season project that Fenton, McEwan, and other businesses should be in the clear.

Chris Engel, the director of economic development in Charlottesville states, “The consensus forecast is about 4 to 5 percent growth over last year and that's a national forecast we hope that materializes here in Charlottesville.”

With 3 million square feet of retail space, the city depends greatly on retailers since retail taxes make up about 7 percent of the city's budget.

"What makes a town town and makes you know a place a wonderful place to live is those little shops and those little restaurants,” Fenton notes.

Economic experts with the city expect downtown retailers to once again eclipse sales from years past, leaving many shop owners smiling this holiday season.