Ashland merchants are hoping a final burst of holiday shopping will add to their stores' bottom lines amid a sluggish year for retailers.

Ashland merchants are hoping a final burst of holiday shopping will add to their stores' bottom lines amid a sluggish year for retailers.

Shops such as Kixx women's clothing are struggling to get people inside their doors, advertising sales on their window to lure in shoppers.

"Things are very slow," Kixx employee Joy Hawn said. "Thank goodness we have a good reputation and loyal customers in the community. But it's just slow right now."

At downtown music store CD or Not CD, owner Lenny Goldberg said his business also is down.

"We're doing about the same as last year," Goldberg said. "Last year was terrible, though, so that's not saying much."

Among his hot sellers are Susan Boyle's debut CD, "I Dreamed a Dream," which has held steady atop Billboard's Top 200 since hitting shelves last month.

Reports from the U.S. Commerce Department and the National Retail Federation show national consumer confidence is on the rise. But that confidence is not translating into additional revenue, as the average American has spent $30 less on holiday shopping this year than last.

Most shop owners reported struggling just to break even. But others said the holidays were merely boosting what had already been a surprisingly plentiful year.

"We're really doing very well," said Pam Hammond of Paddington Station.

Hammond said her store bucked the downward trend by diversifying inventory, getting rid of slow-selling items and stocking up on hot-sellers from retailers around the country.

— Ashland Daily Tidings