Robert Eisenstadt, economics professor at ULM, says seasonal and retail sales in Ouachita Parish have increased from last year. He says approximately 2,500 more people are employed, helping boost the local economy.
"That's more people reporting hat they have dollars to spend going into Christmas shopping season, as opposed to the previous year, when those people were not showing up on the rolls," Eisenstadt said.
He says the boost in employment number can make a difference.
"That's a lot more disposable income showing up in the spending stream," Eisenstadt said.
He says on average, non-automotive retail sales were five percent higher this holiday season than last season, but adds that doesn't mean everyone in the parish did exactly five percent.
"Some people probably did better, some probably didn't do nearly that well, some might have done worse," Eisenstadt said.
He says local retail had a bigger and better November, because Thanksgiving fell a little earlier in the month. That allowed for an extra week of pre-Christmas shopping.
"November sales were quite strong this year compared to last year and that's pretty much what carried the December sales," he said.
He also attributes falling gas prices going into the holiday season.
"If those gasoline dollars aren't being spent on gas, it's being spent on other things," Eisenstadt said.
Local business owners say last year's holiday season along with the current five percent increase in sales has made a stronger economy by providing growth and neutralization for folks in the area.
"We're seeing an influx of new businesses moving in and then we're also drawing a lot of people into this area from outside of the immediate area from surrounding states because this is an area that they come to do shopping," said Michael McMahan, president of the Antique Alley Merchants Association.
He says the Antique Alley shops witnessed an average increase in sales by fifty percent during this holiday rush.
"We try to make it family friendly environment because sometimes those people do not know what's in this area and they see what we have and they come back to shop with us much later or bring their friends to shop also," McMahan said.
Predictions for the holiday season increase were made in October by local business owners.
"We expect the rest of the year to be really good for this whole area and what we're seeing is the growth for this area and neutralization of the different shops that are here," McMahan said.