Last week's snowstorm caused a minor setback for Jersey City merchants, but they are still hoping for a warm holiday season in terms of sales.
"The snow definitely slowed things down," said Peter Klapper, owner of Hudson Camera on Newark Avenue. "Nobody could get out, and nobody wanted to get out. People left work and wanted to get home."
Klapper, who says digital cameras are hot this year, thinks that the snow was only a temporary deterrent.
"With two weeks to go, people will just go shopping the next day or the next week," he said.
Don Smartt, manager of the Journal Square Special Improvement District and the Historic Downtown Special Improvement District, said that the nature of Journal Square businesses encourages last minute shopping.
"A lot of our businesses are service and value discount businesses, so it's a week too soon to tell," Smartt said.
Improvements attract shoppers
Jerry Blankman, owner of Palace Drugs, feels that this holiday season is stronger than last year due to improvements made by the Historic Downtown Jersey City Special Improvement District, of which he is president.
"The [HDSID] has just invested a lot of money in a renovation of Mercado Park where the tree will be lit," said Blankman. "Three months ago, we did pavers, tree planting and a new plaque commemorating the person the park was named for, merchant William Mercado."
Blankman believes that renovating the park created a gateway to the downtown shopping area, which in conjunction with other building renovations and increased police and security presence has encouraged shoppers to come downtown to shop.
Shoppers appreciate convenience and comfort
At Newport Mall, the season has also been busier than usual, snow notwithstanding.
"I don't believe the snow was much of an issue over here because we're accessible by public transportation," said Lisa Competiello, Newport Center Marketing Director. "[Last weekend] was pretty much business as usual. Saturday, people got a late start shoveling themselves out, but Sunday was a strong day."
Rich Mirocco, manager of the JC Penny's Home Department, admits that the weather may have slowed down shopping last weekend, but feels that customer traffic is up over last year.
"We basically had a storm right about the same time last year," said Mirocco. "We were up against a snowstorm during the same time last year. We didn't have to close early. We opened on time and we stayed open until it was time to close. Our customer traffic was enough that we were able to stay open."
Shopping areas hold promotions
One advantage of having official shopping districts is the ability for stores to work together to attract shoppers. Stores have offered visits from Santa and a tree lighting.
Newport Mall also has Santa until Christmas Eve, along with promotions such as pet night Thursday, and has scheduled a breakfast with Santa today (Dec. 14), Sunday.
Location may be the edge that stores need to do well. Christian Jewelers on Central Avenue often depends on post office traffic to generate customers, and its closure during the storm had an impact.
"The snow last weekend put a little damper on business," said owner John Wascoe. "It was slower than usual. We're right next to the post office, and people going to the post office often see us and stop in."
Wascoe also speculates that the economy may be a factor in slow sales.
"This is the busiest season for a jeweler," he said.