THOMASVILLE, GA (WALB) –Thanksgiving is still over a week away but Thomasville's downtown holiday shopping season is already in full swing. Officials expect a high number of shoppers even though experts predict lower holiday sales nationwide.
One look at downtown Thomasville and it's not hard to tell Christmas is right around the corner.
"People plan further ahead and try to get Christmas shopping done so they can enjoy the holidays," explains Karen Smith, the director of Downtown Thomasville and Mainstreet Tourism. "So that's really the driving force to get our holiday decorations up."
Officials say the decorations and festive store fronts put people in holiday spirits.
"It gets people prepared to get in that mood for Christmas and gets them ready to shop," says Andrew Moon, an employee of Cargo Unlimited Gifts in downtown Thomasville.
"We just kinda follow merchants," Smith admits. "It used to be that you did not put out Christmas decorations until after Thanksgiving day. But now people really start a lot earlier."
And all the early preparations are already paying off. Thomasville predicts higher holiday sales despite a recent Gallup poll that shows Americans plan to spend less this gift-giving season.
Smith says, "Some of the merchants have been sharing with me saying that their sales are up somewhat over last year which is very encouraging."
Moon agrees, "Business has definitely been picking up. So it's been a really positive thing. I hope it goes well but we're definitely giving our all to make it that way."
Officials say getting their decorations up early also prepares them for one of Thomasville's biggest annual events: Victorian Christmas.
"Oh my goodness! I'll tell you what," exclaims Smith, "We finally just said we'll take it a week at a time. We know it's coming."
"It's great," Moon says. "I think it'll draw a lot of people in. Thomasville is a great area. Lots of stuff to see. I love it."
And he's doing his best to spread that holiday cheer.
Most downtown Thomasville shops will stay open late every Friday until Christmas for holiday shoppers.
This weekend the city is also hosting its Plantation Wildlife Arts Festival in parts of downtown.