The post-Thanksgiving weekend appeared to live up to its tradition as a Christmas gift-buying jamboree with shoppers continuing to jam malls around the Southland on Sunday.
Shoppers were said to be particularly attracted to such merchandise as fancy sweaters, jewelry, men's and women's accessories, leather goods, gift books, perfumes, indoor barbecue grills for the grown-ups, miniature cars for young boys, and Barbie dolls for girls. Several stores noted a major customer emphasis on quality and fashion.
Some store managers said the selling pace seemed busier than last year's, although in many instances there were few hard statistics to back up their impressions.
In some areas of the Southland, stores reported that crowds were heaviest Friday but were still generally very good on Saturday and Sunday. Although the change to sunny weather after a chilly, damp Friday appeared ideal for freeway pilgrimages to malls, store personnel generally were not inclined to credit weather for the ample crowds. Some said people simply seemed in the mood for early Christmas shopping.
"People are just in a Christmas mood, having a good time," said Elaine Pasternak, manager of Bullock's at the Beverly Center. "It's outstanding, absolutely outstanding."
And noting congested parking lots at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, spokesman Mike Moon said: "Weather doesn't seem to be a factor. People just seem to want to start their Christmas shopping."
The upbeat mood seemed widespread. The manager of a K mart store in Cudahy said business was so good he didn't have time to talk about it.
A Busy Friday
"We're ahead of last year," reported Nordstrom manager Steve Schreiber in Glendale. That was echoed at a Wherehouse store in Los Angeles, where sales of compact discs and audio cassettes were said to be running as much as 15% ahead of last year's pace.
Weekend business at J. C Penney in Hawthorne Plaza was "moderate to busy," according to a spokesperson. A sales clerk at Loehmann's, a Los Angeles specialty women's shop, said business was "going great."
"Friday was the busiest, and today and yesterday were just fair compared to last year," reported a spokeswoman at Sears in the Northridge Fashion Center.
At B. Dalton Bookseller at the Beverly Center, supervisor Ruby Scott described the pace Sunday as "hectic" and generally busier than last year. Popular items, she said, were "gift books, primarily arty gift books, and humor."
C&R Clothiers in Brentwood also reported being busier than last year, despite competition for shoppers' time from the big Saturday football games.
Although a slower Sunday was attributed to the annual Hollywood Christmas parade by Glenn Burger, manager at Tower Records in Hollywood, he said that total sales were "at or above what we were doing last year." Compact discs in particular were booming, he said, but conventional long-play records were "picking up real fast."
Leather Is Popular
A security guard at the Fashion Island mall in Newport Beach said the tree-lighting ceremony there Saturday night helped to pack the parking lot with shoppers.
At the Toy Junction in Irvine, senior clerk Robert Espero said the store was getting a lot of calls about a holiday-costumed Barbie doll that Mattel advertised for Christmas but which the store did not yet have in stock.
Consumers showed particular interest in well-made merchandise, according to Diane Kantor, manager of Nordstrom at the Galleria At South Bay in Redondo Beach. Executive items have been popular, she said, as well as "any leather" merchandise. Also, she said, the "fragrance area started out very strong--right out of the starting gate." Schreiber, her counterpart at the Glendale store, agreed that fragrances, novelty-type sweaters and leather or leather-trimmed items were doing well, with shoppers putting "a lot of emphasis on quality."
Cyril's, a Beverly Hills men's store, was doing "tremendous" business in sweaters, a salesman said, but added that "everything in the store has been selling, all clothing and accessories."
At Judy's in Century City Shopping Center, manager Shirin Labib-Kiyarash was in a glowing mood about the successful way the season started over the weekend, with virtually all men's and women's clothing doing well.
Jamie Eller, division sales manager of Bullock's at South Coast Plaza, called the store's weekend's business "fabulous" and noted that one of its big sellers was a special-promotion Snoopy doll. She summed up: "The consensus of shoppers is very up and positive."