People came out to snap shots with and dance with but how did the merchants do this past weekend during the ?
to boost tourism and thus extend the shopping season for a Village that was more closely associated with boats and ice cream than Holiday Shopping, the Dickens Festival has grown every year to become more of an event in and of itself.
That doesn't mean that people don't shop while they're in town. In fact, the merchants in Port Jefferson do better during the Dickens Festival than that traditional shopping frenzy, Black Friday. Even though Black Friday sales were actually up this year for many local stores, the Festival was still a better day for traffic and sales overall.
"Business was excellent," said Stacy Davidson from on East Main Street. "Sales were up from last year."
She said that her store exceeded comparable same day sales from last year's festival.
"Comparing Sunday last year to Sunday sales this year I beat last year nicely," said Davidson. "I did twice as well on each day of the Dickens weekend compared to last year."
Port Jefferson officials estimated that between 17,000 and 20,000 people were in the Village over the three days of the festival. Both town officials and merchants surveyed were very happy with the turnout.
Last year, rain on Saturday kept many people away from town. In comparison, this past weekend, temperatures were in the 30s and 40s but it was bright and sunny every day of the Festival.
Barbara Ransome, Director of Operations of the , said at the Port Jefferson Village Board of Trustees meeting on Monday night that merchants reported a 10 percent increase in sales over last year.
At sponsored by the Chamber they doled out over forty gallons of cider compared to half that amount last year, an indicator of the increase in foot traffic to the Dickens Festival.
"We were jam packed," said Linda McLoone, Gallery Director of the on Main Street. "People came in and we sold lots of little gifts."
McLoone said that in comparison, the store sold more large items on Black Friday than during the Dickens Festival but that was because of a special promotion.
"The traffic on Black Friday wasn't tremendous but because we had an email coupon we sold more paintings," she said.
The company offered people two hundred dollars off paintings in an offer that drove sales. Half of the those orders were for a new Kinkade painting featuring Central Park in the fall.
"We never had a Black Friday like that," said McLoone. "Prior to that, Black Friday was never a big day."
Davidson said she also had a better than expected Black Friday sales day but it still didn't compare to the festival weekend.
"Overall Dickens beats Black Friday," she said.