Economy takes a baby step forward - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Economy takes a baby step forward

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By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –  Retail sales have increased slightly. It may not sound like much, but retail sales rose about half percent in August, and that's the best gain in five months, despite the fact that car sales dropped.

And it's not just necessities people are buying, they are putting their money into discretionary items. Place on the Pointe gift shop is a specialty retailer. They like to celebrate the happy moments in life, like weddings and babies.

But in hard times, people have been forced to cut back on spending on novelty gift items, so how have they made it through?

Ask Tina Harden what brings her to Place on the Pointe and she can rattle off multiple reasons. "Because they bring in such interesting things, and their service is wonderful and the people are delightful and it's fun to shop in here."

Today, she's shopping for two different brides. Store Manager Honey Bolton says customers like Harden are what keeps Place on the Pointe in business year after year.  "I think customers are very specific about where they're spending their discretionary income and they're going to spend it where they're appreciated and where they get good value for their products," she said.

Bolton says they've seen a slight increase in sales, but they never had a dramatic drop. She says that's because even though they offer high end gift items like China, flatware and stemware, they also have other products that appeal to people in at any price point.

She said, "We carry a little bit of everything and so it really makes a difference, I think." A big enough difference that even people who've been tight with their money are willing to let loose of some of it.

Harden said, "I think people have been frugal for a good little while now and it's kind of fun to splurge a little."

Bolton says the store has been lucky, but they've worked hard to keep business moving. Her advice to other retailers is to remember who signs their paychecks.  "Just to remember to focus on your customer. Your customer is your bread and butter. They are who make the difference so focus on that."

And hope the economy continues to recover.

Place on the Pointe says the beauty of their business is that what they sell is always in style because people will always get married and have babies.

Because of their success, Place on the Pointe is celebrating its 25th anniversary next month. They're throwing an all day party at the store on October 21st.

The Retail Sales Report has been published by the U-S Census Bureau since 1951. It's published every month and is a measure of how much consumers are spending.

The information comes from retail firms that provide data on the dollar value of their sales and inventories.

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