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Season bright for retailers

By By Lindsey Sherrill
The 2003 holiday shopping season had been predicted to be the best in several years, and, according to several local merchants, met expectations.
"The season was very good," Mark Booth, manager of B.C. Moore's, said. "I'd say we more than met expectations. We've been doing very well for the past five months so we're in general having a good year. Overall this was a very good Christmas shopping season for us."
The rise of the stock market and accompanying increase in consumer confidence at the end of 2003 were major factors in economic experts' predictions which forecast 2003 as the best shopping season since 1999. Though national economic results will not be available until after the New Year, local merchants are making their own assessments.
"It's still a little to early to really tell," Edith Beans, of the Beans Store, said. "But I'd say it was at least as good or better a year than last-and last year was better than expected."
"It [the holiday season] was good this year, better than last, at least as far as computers go," Jonathan Jantz of Southern Computer said. "More people are buying for their families. This year we saw a lot of people buying second computers, like for their kids."
The Atmore Chamber of Commerce launched its "31-87" campaign this season to help encourage local shopping. The slogan "31-87" comes from the latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates for the intersection of Main Street and U.S. 31. The Chamber's Web site, www.31-87.com, included links to Chamber members' websites and encouraged people to 'continue to make Atmore the center of your holiday shopping needs.'
Many Atmore residents, such as Gayle Carpenter and Sharon McGhee, did just that as they completed their holiday shopping.
"I did a lot of my shopping in Atmore," McGhee said. "I know I bought this and that at Country Charms as well as shopping at BC Moore's. I know I also got a lot at Fred's and other places around town."
Carpenter also did much of her shopping locally. " I did as much as I could here. I really tried to do my best to stay local with my shopping," Carpenter said.