Early estimates suggest businesses in West Virginia had a strong holiday spending season, more in-person purchasing

by Josiah Cork STAFF WRITER

January 9, 2022


The 2021 holiday shopping season was highly successful thanks to a much higher level of in-person shopping, according to reports.

Shoppers took to the stores during the 2021 holiday shopping season to deliver higher in-person numbers than in the last two years.

Strong Holiday Spending | Shoppers Shopping - AP

AP photo

The final numbers are not yet in for the 2021 holiday season, but officials’ early estimates suggest that businesses in West Virginia enjoyed a strong showing.

“The preliminary indications show that spending was increased over 2020,” said Steve Roberts, president of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce.

“I can tell you … on an anecdotal level, we’re getting very good reports back telling us through word-of-mouth — a lot of the different managers at different retail outlets — they’ve been telling us it was a good season,” said Joe Bell, director of corporate communications for Cafaro Company.

Cafaro Company is a retail real estate company that owns Meadowbrook Mall in Bridgeport and Huntington Mall.

“They had a lot of good traffic and they had very strong sales for the month of December,” Bell said.

Customers seem to have put effort into their gift-giving, as sales were higher than last year’s holiday season, giving the economy a nice boost heading into the new calendar year.
“So first of all, the spending appears to be up over 2020. The consumers appear to have spent rather liberally. That, of course, helps the economy because over 70% of our economy is connected to consumer spending,” Roberts said. “So we feel that when all the numbers are tallied, we’re going to have had a very good holiday spending season.”

As Roberts noted, data is still being collected from the latest holiday season.

Some sales will even continue to trickle in through returns and gift cards, according to Bell.
“A lot of those sales are going to continue coming over this week and (the week of Jan. 9-15),” he said. “A lot of consumers are going to be using this time for returns or for spending gift cards they received.”

Perhaps the biggest difference between the 2021 and 2020 holiday seasons was that 2021 saw much higher levels of in-person spending compared to massive online sales in 2020.
“Certainly an uptick from last year for sure (for in-person buying). A lot of reports are indicating in many of the retailers that they were seeing better sales than 2019,” Bell said.
“We believe there was more in person spending than last year, but we’re also seeing large gains in online purchasing. So that is certainly keeping the delivery people busy,” Roberts said.
He notes that the demand for online purchases has remained high, which has moved some of the workforce toward deliveries.

“We actually have a decrease in the number of retail workers in West Virginia, and we think that’s largely because of the online purchasing that’s growing in our state,” Roberts said. “Delivery companies are hiring. There’s a great need for truck drivers.”

Because of the much higher in-person shopping in West Virginia, the final numbers for Christmas 2021 spending will likely be promising for businesses, according to Bell.

“Just from what we’re hearing anecdotally from store managers around our properties — around the Meadowbrook Mall, Huntington Mall — it was a very strong holiday season,” Bell said. “Lots of foot traffic. Lots of in-person shopping. I think everyone’s going to be pleased when they tally their final results.”


Demolition contract approved for site of new Career Technology Center

By LUKE CREASY lcreasy@hdmediallc.com The Herald Dispatch | October 5, 2021


HUNTINGTON — Work will soon start at the former Sears building at the Huntington Mall, beginning with partial demolition of the inside of the building.

The property, which is owned by Cabell County Schools, will be the future site of the Cabell County Career Technology Center, which is one of four planned new schools in the district.

During Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Board of Education, E.P. Leach and Sons was awarded the contract for demolition work for the new Career Technology Center at the mall. The 100-day contract is worth $683,000, paid for through bond monies. Work is expected to begin in the next couple of weeks, officials said.

The demolition work includes the removal of existing lighting fixtures and ceiling separating the two floors, as well as all floor tiles and fixture walls inside the building.

“Once we remove display walls, it opens up the room for other contractors to work,” said Dave Ferguson, of ZMM Architects and Engineers, the lead contractor for the new building.

He added that fixtures such as the escalators and elevator will remain to keep the structural integrity of the building intact.

“We don’t want to do too much structural work until we find out where all the rooms are going to be,” Ferguson said.

The approval of a contract for Casto Technical Services to install an HVAC system in the gymnasium at the district’s Transportation Department headquarters, worth $85,660, was also approved.

In other business, Gibson Davis, a student at Cabell Midland High School, was recognized by the board for his appearance in Bluegrass Today after stepping in for five-time International Bluegrass Music Association Banjo Player of the Year Kristin Scott Benson, of the Rascals, who couldn’t play an event due to a family emergency.

Bluegrass Today is an online forum for bluegrass fans, writers, musicians and industry professionals. It’s the second time Davis has been published by the outlet. He also received a special shoutout from Bill Cody, DJ at WSM-AM in Nashville, the official radio home of the Grand Ole Opry.

Board members also approved the superintendent’s recommendation to ratify an unpaid suspension of professional employee Todd Parks, retroactive from Sept. 17 and continuing until an investigation is complete and a resolution is reached.

BUSINESS BEAT: Two additions coming to Huntington Mall this fall

By FRED PACE fpace@hdmediallc.com | September 30, 2021

The Huntington Mall opened its doors on Feb. 3, 1981. It will welcome two new additions this fall.

Ryan Fischer | The Herald-Dispatch

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HUNTINGTON — Two new additions are coming to Huntington Mall this fall.

BoxLunch and Grindstone Coffeeology both plan to open their doors in time for the holiday shopping season, according to Joe Bell, director of corporate communications for the mall’s parent company, Cafaro.

“The name of BoxLunch is a little deceiving,” Bell said. “It’s a civic-minded web plus brick and mortar-based specialty retailer offering a curated collection of licensed and non-licensed merchandise. The pop culture-themed product line includes apparel, accessories, home goods, gift and novelty and collectibles.”

Bell said with every $10 customers spend, BoxLunch will help provide a meal secured by Feeding America on behalf of local member food banks.

He said the new store will open its doors in a 3,444-square-foot location near the mall’s Center Court. There are currently 165 BoxLunch stores nationwide, according to Bell.

“Right next door to BoxLunch, Grindstone Coffeeology will be serving up delicious offerings for coffee lovers,” Bell added. “The new 996 square foot shop roasts its own coffee beans and offers a variety of drinks that include cappuccino, espresso, lattes and cold-brewed iced coffee. The drink menu also includes sweet and unsweetened tea and Italian sodas. Complementing all this is a tasty assortment of breakfast pastries, sandwiches and soup. Grindstone has already built a loyal following at its initial location in the City of Huntington.”

For more information on mall tenants, hours and events, call 304-733-0492 or visit online at www.huntingtonmall.com.