Kitimat retailers received their own Christmas present after a long, difficult year fraught with uncertainty.
And they look forward to a healthy 2011.
Members of the Haisla Nation received an $8,000 per person dividend late last year as a result of KLNG buying out the Haisla’s option in the proposed liquefied natural gas plant.
Which in turn had a positive economic affect in Kitimat.
“We had an extra little bonus in town this this fall so it turned out to be a fairly good Christmas,” Linda Pitzel of BookMasters/The Source said.
“If there was a saving grace, it had to be the money that was given to the Haisla,” echoed Derek deGoeij of Sears.
Other retailers reported the same positive sales over Christmas, helping offset lower sales through the rest of the year.
“We did probably $6,000 to $8,000 more than we did the previous year,” said Heather Masch of Pyramid Office Supplies.
Due to challenges in the local economy, primarily related to the Eurocan closure, retail sales were reported down through most of the year, making the Christmas sales an unexpected surprise.
Trish Parsons of the Kitimat Chamber of Commerce also attributes the Christmas sales volume to greater economic certainty in Kitimat.
“I think a lot of that was people knew where they were at whereas the previous year there were a lot of unknowns,” she explained.
The Chamber also ran the Christmas in Kitimat passport books which provided an incentive for shoppers to plan their Christmas shopping in Kitimat.
Parsons said 112 completed passports were returned to the Chamber for entry into a draw.
“When you start doing the calculations, there’s a fair bit of money moving throughout the community,” she pointed out.
For most businesses in the retail sector, Christmas sales provide income to carry them through the first and second quarters of the year, which tend to have lower sales volumes.
With the unexpected bump in sales, Kitimat retailers expect to have a healthy 2011.
Parsons said the Chamber of Commerce believes Kitimat has reached it’s economic bottom and expects the coming year will see more economic growth in the community.
“People are very optimistic, there’s lot’s of things starting to happen.”