With many people taking up to four days off from work starting with Independence Day on Thursday, many residents are likely taking the opportunity to do some shopping. Some local retailers have already had increases in sales this year due to improvements in the economy. They say they plan to continue that trend through the long holiday weekend with extra sales.
Dustin Benitez, general manager of the Midtown Outlet furniture store in Anniston, said he expects more customers through the holiday weekend.
"We usually see a bump for July 4th," Benitez said. "Normally, even if it's raining, we still do pretty well."
It's been a rainy week for Calhoun County so far. According to the National Weather Service in Calera, the Anniston area received about an inch of rainfall Thursday and today. The NWS predicts an 80 percent chance of showersSaturday and a 60 percent chance of thunderstorms Sunday.
Mike Manos, operations manager for Wakefield's Inc., which operates the Martin's Family Clothing and Wakefield's stores in Anniston and Oxford, said he hopes to have a boost in sales for the holiday as well.
"We always hope to have a sales bump, but you never know with the rain," Manos said.
Both Manos and Benitez said their businesses are offering special deals throughout the holiday weekend to lure in more customers. For instance, Midtown Outlet is offering deals on bedroom sets while Martin's and Wakefield's are offering specials on Auburn and Alabama football T-shirts.
Manos noted that his company has already seen strong sales this year.
"Our sales up to June are running significantly up over last year," Manos said. "Business has been very good this year."
Manos said sales of shoes and Alabama football clothing has done particularly well.
"And the economy has improved a little bit and we expect a good year," he said.
Nancy King Dennis, spokeswoman for the Alabama Retail Association, said sales have been strong for retailers across the state most of the year and the July Fourth holiday weekend should also see a boost in sales. According to statistics from the Alabama Retail Association, businesses in the state sold about $4.45 billion in merchandise in May, an increase from $4.27 billion sold in April. Dennis said April 2013 was the best April for the state since 2008, while May was the best sales month since March 2012.
"Sales are up compared to last year ... we had a decline a couple of months back, but we seem to be getting back on track," Dennis said. "July usually builds up again through August ... August is always a bump in sales, too, due to back to school sales."
Benitez said Midtown Outlet has also seen sales improve this year overall.
"Yeah, our sales are way up," Benitez said.
Benitez attributed the sales growth to improvement in the economy and to Midtown Outlet offering more deals that interest customers.
"We're doing more strategic buying ... trying to make better buying purchases with suppliers ... buying only truckloads of furniture so we can pass the savings onto the customer," Benitez said.
Staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star.