Holiday Shoppers Buy More Than Expected

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Retailers have a lot to be thankful for following the Thanksgiving weekend.

Wal-Mart had lines of people waiting to get inside at 5 a.m., as did Moose Mountain Gifts and Moose Mart Antiques in Pine.

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Rose Hatch came to Wal-Mart's 5 a.m. sale the day after Thanksgiving to capture bargain prices on gifts for families she is helping this Christmas season.

"That 5 a.m. opening was very busy," said Quinn Cremer, manager of the Payson Wal-Mart. "It leveled off some by about 6:30, but when the sun came up, we were really busy again."

Cremer said the Payson store and others in its district, which includes most of northern Arizona is ranked first in the Arizona-New Mexico region.

"We surpassed sales from last year," Cremer said.

The most popular items were flat screen televisions and the new electronic games.

At Moose Mountain, the parking lot was full, people were parked in the street and around the corner and customers were about 14-deep in line at the shop.

Melissa Davis, manager of the Stage department store, said the weekend went very well.

"It was better than I anticipated," she said.

Stage's most popular item was shoes, Davis said.

Eagle Mountain owner Wesley Schleef said the weekend was good and the shop saw more customers on Saturday than on Friday.

East Verde Trading Company had the rush that was expected, with lots of Christmas items going out the door, according to owner Janell Holzwarth.

Debbie Stuart, who owns Gasoline Alley with her husband, Mike, said sales were better than expected and the amount of business they did was a pleasant surprise.

Tina Bruess, executive director of the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce, said she heard the shopping season had a fantastic start.

"Every place I saw was busy," she said.

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