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Flathead retailers report strong shopping season

Published On: Jan 30 2013 11:57:01 AM MST   Updated On: Jan 04 2013 08:40:39 AM MST

For Mark Pirre, the retail industry is a way of life. It’s how he feeds his family and it’s how his dad fed his. So, it’s a relief for him to tell NBC Montana that his store saw a sales boost of about two percent this December over last December.  

He attributes the sales partly to a post-Christmas spike, the same thing that saved a lot of retailers around the country. Reports last month painted a bleak picture of December shopping at major retailers, saying it was on track to be the worst since 2008. However, after-Christmas bargain hunters may have saved the day.

In the Flathead, those bargain hunters were largely Canadian.

“We had a great week after Christmas and I think that Boxing Day kind of kicked off the week,” said Western Outdoor owner Mark Pirrie. “There were a lot of people down from Canada and they extended, maybe, their vacations and it’s still going on. I think this week has been really strong.”

Not far from Mark’s store, at the Kalispell Center Mall, the manager of the local Riddles Jewelry branch agreed. Amy Bedey says some rule changes at the border have been driving sales. Canadians can now bring back more money’s worth of goods, without paying taxes.

“We talk about it quite often,” said Bedey. “Especially when they’re making higher dollar purchases…”

Boxing Day, a shopping holiday, brought the Canadian customers out in droves.

“The whole holiday season, it was busier,” said Bedey. “You could hear the bustle of the shoppers out in the mall and it was just a great feeling. You could see it and hear it.”