SANTA MARIA, Calif. -- The holiday shopping season appears to be off to a strong start for many Santa Maria businesses.
Several stores and shops located inside the Santa Maria Town Center have reported excellent sales over the recent Thanksgiving weekend.
"Black Friday was great," said Sportscard Fantasy's owner Curt Miller. "We just had our best Black Friday ever. We were up. We did considerably more business than last year and last year was a pretty good year."
It's a similar story at nearby World 1-1 Games.
"It's been fantastic," said Kyrianan Ruiz, World 1-1 Games general manager. "Actually, I don't think I've ever seen the mall be this busy. I can think of years. Christmas is always packed, but it's been fantastic. I am just super duper grateful. It really looks everyone is having a lot of fun."
The strong sales mirror what is happening at many other businesses across the nation.
According to the National Retail Federation, a retail industry group, nearly 200 million Americans shopped over Thanksgiving weekend, a record breaking number.
Even more encouraging for locally-owned businesses like many at the mall, in-store shopping rose significantly, up 17 percent from last year.
For the Santa Maria Town Center, a steady stream of customers filled the shopping center all weekend long.
"Friday was super busy," said Micah Hernandez, owner of the new Anti Square Pins, Slaps & More kiosk. "had a worker with me here all day and we were pretty busy up on our feet all day. There was a lot of foot traffic and a lot of young kids. They had school off, so it was busy and they were spending money."
A busy mall was a great way for local retailers to kick off the holiday shopping season and hopeful sign of more to come over the next several weeks.
"We're really excited," said Miller. "We have a better inventory. The covid thing kept us from getting a lot of our better merchandise and we're fully stocked and we're ready to go.”
"Nationally, shoppers spent an average of about $230 on gifts over the weekend. The spending came despite high difficult financial times for many, caused by high costs associated with inflation and concerns about a possible recession in the near future.
"We're not seeing any downtrends," said Ruiz. "We're not even seeing any breaks in spending at all. It's completely linear. People need to get their Christmas shopping done."
And best of all for mall businesses, it looks like many consumer are looking to spend their Christmas shopping money close to home.
"I don't think anybody could have expected it to be this good," said Ruiz. "People are just happy to get out. People are doing real christmas shopping, not just buying things off Amazon."