Retailers in Harrison County have something to smile about. Sales for the first six months of the year reflect a four percent increase over last year. '
That reverses a two year decline in retail sales for that same six month period.
And store managers predict the positive buying trend will continue.
The U-S economy may still be in the doldrums. But it's a different story at Stride Rite shoe store in the Prime Outlets shopping center in Gulfport.
At this store, summer sales are exceptionally strong.
"Business has been really good this year. We've had in the low double digit increases. And we've had continuous sales growth. And it's been real good this summer," said store manager, Lucy Arrington.
The Prime Outlets manager credits a stable coast economy for helping boost sales. The outlet stores also benefited from thousands of cruise ship passengers who rode shuttle buses here for summer shopping.
"Our stores certainly felt the effects of them at their cash registers. They were very strong for us. And I think that helped out summer," said Pam Meinzinger.
The manager of JC Penny won't reveal specific numbers, but assures us the store is enjoying a significant sales increase this year over last. Many stores in Edgewater Mall report an upward trend in sales this summer.
Terry Powell is general manager of Edgewater Mall.
"During the first of the year, sales seemed to be a little bit flat. But over the past few months things seem to have been picking up quite a bit," he said.
Store managers say this year's back to school business should give the positive sales numbers an even bigger boost. Back to school shopping is traditionally one of the busiest times for retailers, second only to Christmas shopping season.
"Once you get on a roll, it's great, you know. It's great. Hopefully we'll just see it rolling right on through Christmas," said Powell.
That would be a welcome gift for retailers, following a successful summer.
Along with a relatively stable coast economy, store managers credit tourism for helping boost summer sales. Many who vacation in South Mississippi, spend time shopping here as well.