As of last Tuesday, 53 percent of people surveyed by the National Retail Federation said they’d already begun their holiday shopping. Andrew Jackson was not one of those people — although, to be fair, he’d spent the day window shopping on Wisconsin Avenue in Friendship Heights.
“I was off today, so I decided to come up here and browse around,” Jackson, who works at the D.C. Superior Court, said last Tuesday. “I have to think up gifts for some friends, and then I have my sisters. They like pocketbooks and shoes, so I’m going to get them some flats, something comfortable, but I won’t do that until after Thanksgiving.”
Retailers are doing their best to nab customers as early as possible by offering sweeping discounts even before Black Friday approaches. Even so, many area stores say they’ve yet to see a big rush of holiday shoppers.
“Not too many men are coming in yet — big surprise, huh?” said Angela Mbaye, who works at the Brooks Brothers in Chevy Chase. “But the ladies are starting to come in to buy for their husbands and their kids.”
Pricey gifts front and center
The focus may be on smaller-tag accessories this year, but that’s not to say customers aren’t still shopping for — or at least gawking at — pricier items.
At the Saks Fifth Avenue Men’s Store in Mazza Gallerie, a pair of $680 Prada Levitates, an ostentatious dress shoe with clear soles and red fringe, has become the center of attention.
“We like to display them up front because people like to come in and look at them,” an employee said. “That’s not to say they’re popular yet, but they’re definitely a talking point.”
Even at The Hour, where ice molds and cocktail napkins are top-sellers, there is an appetite for higher-priced items during the holidays.
“This time of year, it’s all about champagne flutes and old martini shakers,” Vergason said, gesturing toward a 1920s shaker priced at $575. “And our very cute vintage Santa glasses — they’re four for $100, and we can never keep them in the store long enough.”
And there’s always Amazon.com
Sue Noguchi was shopping for her two daughters and five grandchildren — ages 9, 6, 5, 3, and one month — last week. She’d been reading up on baby-food makers, and stopped by Giggle, a children’s shop in Friendship Heights, to look at them in person.
“This is a mecca of baby fantasy,” Noguchi said, as her husband waited in one of the store’s rocking chairs. “I’ve dropped a lot of coin at this shop. I mean, I go to the other stores that I need to go to first and then I come here and say ‘Okay, I have a little bit of money left.’”
Noguchi checked out the Beaba Babycook which, for $149, promises to steam, blend, defrost and reheat homemade purees. She wasn’t too impressed.
“Honestly, I will probably go buy it from Amazon,” she said.