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A fast start for retailers

Post-Thanksgiving sales at Rogue Valley Mall top 2001's so far

Auto and foot traffic have been up and so have sales at the Rogue Valley Mall this Christmas shopping season.

Jill Ditty, Rogue Valley Mall's senior marketing manager, said 16,832 cars came in the retail center's three primary entrances over the holiday weekend, surpassing the previous high of 16,694 last year. Using the industry-standard multiplier of 2.5 people per car, she estimated more than 42,000 shoppers shouldered their way into the mall.

Sales last Friday through Sunday at the mall's non-anchor specialty stores rose a reported 7 percent over 2001 and gift certificate sales climbed 8 percent.

JCPenney Co. Inc. reported record sales both here and nationally on the day after Thanksgiving.

Medford store manager Frank Clifton reported a 23 percent gain for the Friday after Thanksgiving from 2001.

What triggered it was that we had a lot of percent-off price sales and early-morning door-busters, Clifton said. We opened at 6 (a.m.) and that helped; we had always opened at 7 before.

On Wednesday, he said business was as brisk as if it were a Saturday.

Mervyn's manager Frank Avila said that after a strong weekend, foggy nights have stemmed the shopping surge at his store.

I'm waiting for people to realize they have one less week to shop, Avila said. When they finally realize that, it's going to break loose.

He said last Saturday's sales were significantly better than the corresponding Saturday in 2001, but Friday's sales were similar.

That Friday was a make-or-break day last year and people came out in full strength, Avila said. To have that kind of day again was very pleasing.

Meier & Frank, which added a new 48,000-square-foot home center in April and then remodeled its entire two-story main store at the mall, topped all Oregon and Utah stores over the Thanksgiving week, Medford manager Cindy George said.

It's been a good year already and hopefully it will be even better, George said. This is the start of the month in which you make it or break it and I have no intention of breaking it.

Downtown, Larson's Super Store owner Bruce Larson said people's reluctance to travel has boosted furniture sales.

November closed out quite nicely, said Larson, declining to be more specific than to say sales grew by double-digits.

People aren't going places as much. What they are doing is taking discretionary money and making their home nicer.

He added that high-definition televisions have been popular big-ticket items.

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 776-4463 or e-mail