June better than expected in retail

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At Vinya's in Aiken, owner Carol Redd said June had record sales -- a nice surprise in a typically slow month for retail.

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Susan Standeffer from Tuscaloosa, Ala., browses through clothes at Vinya's boutique off Laurens Street in Aiken. Owner Carol Redd said her sales have been great this summer. Overall, revenue for major retailers increased 6.9 percent in June.   Sara Caldwell/Staff
Sara Caldwell/Staff
Susan Standeffer from Tuscaloosa, Ala., browses through clothes at Vinya's boutique off Laurens Street in Aiken. Owner Carol Redd said her sales have been great this summer. Overall, revenue for major retailers increased 6.9 percent in June.

"It's very strange, and I have no idea why," she said. "I'm grateful, of course, and very thankful to my loyal customers."

Redd said she ran a July Fourth special and some other incidental sales, but for some reason, this summer has been an especially good one.

"Really great sales," she said. "Better than the last two summers, and way better than I would have predicted."

Vinya's sells distinctive women's clothing, and Redd said she never reorders anything, so her selection is unique, even with this summer's heavier traffic.

"Aiken is such a small town, you really don't want to run into someone wearing the exact same thing," she said.

Instead of just buying more of the same, Redd said she simply supplemented her line with different items.

Nationwide, June was good for the retail industry, with discounters and luxury brands benefiting the most, and stores serving low- and middle-income shoppers lagging behind.

June is historically the second most important month on retailers' sales calendar, behind December. During the month, stores typically clear out summer merchandise to make room for fall goods.

This time, it took deeper discounts than usual to get shoppers to buy.

Consumers who were enticed by warmer weather and deep discounts of up to 80 percent on summer merchandise went on a buying binge, helping many retailers deliver the most robust revenue gains for that month since 1999.

Overall, revenue at major retailers rose 6.9 percent for June, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers' tally of 28 retailers' results.

The Swank Co. in Surrey Center also saw sales growth in June, and owner Amy Epps attributes this to the rebounding economy.

"Things are getting better, and we're starting to climb out of where the economy has been," she said.

Epps said she and her employees have held fewer promotional sales this summer, which made the success even more surprising.

"We were surprised and excited to see our numbers so good, especially because we ran fewer sales than in the past," she said.

Not every retailer around Augusta saw this sales spike, however.

Susan Wilson works for Design Images and Gifts in Surrey Center, and she said store traffic was slow in June, leading up to an even slower July.

"It's just not great in the summer," Wilson said. "It's too hot."

She said she doesn't know exactly how this June lined up with past years, but it felt about average.

Design Images has a retail store but also offers design services. Wilson said that summer is an inconvenient time for most people to redo their home's decorating scheme because children are out of school and other summer activities are going on.

"They're not interested in working on their house while their children are running around," she said. "It'll all pick up soon, though."


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