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Retail Tipsheet: Openings, closings pick up in third quarter

Line cook Doug Jambor takes out a pizza at Ovn Wood Fire Pizza at 1148 10th St., near the South Bay Trail in Fairhaven. Ovn was one of 27 retail businesses that opened in Whatcom County between July and September.
Line cook Doug Jambor takes out a pizza at Ovn Wood Fire Pizza at 1148 10th St., near the South Bay Trail in Fairhaven. Ovn was one of 27 retail businesses that opened in Whatcom County between July and September. The Bellingham Herald

It was a busy third quarter when it came to retail business openings and closings in Whatcom County.

I’ve counted 35 retail business closings and 74 openings this year, with the pace on both picking up from July through the end of September. The number of closings in the third quarter (16) nearly equaled the first half of the year (19), while businesses were opening at a faster clip than the first two quarters.

It’s a little unusual for the third quarter to be busier in Whatcom County, given the timing for best sales weeks. In recent years, the first quarter is usually the busiest when it comes to retail business closures because it’s the slowest time of year and comes after the holiday shopping season. Openings tend to be most active in the second quarter as businesses want to be established before the busier second half of the year, which includes the back-to-school shopping season.

Usually the final three months of the season have less opening/closing activity, but that may not be the case this year, at least for openings. The Waples Mercantile building at 444 Front St. in Lynden is expected to have five new retail tenants open in the coming months along with The Inn at Lynden. Sunset Square in Bellingham also is adding new tenants in the smaller spaces now that the larger tenants like Safeway and Taco Bell have settled in.

SOLID SEASON EXPECTED FOR HOLIDAY SHOPPING

The National Retail Federation released its annual holiday forecast with a prediction that retail sales in November and December will increase 3.7 percent, which is well above the 10-year average of 2.5 percent.

Nationwide, that would mean about $630.5 billion, which is about 19 percent of the industry’s annual sales, according to a news release. Federation CEO Matthew Shay said consumers are somewhat torn between their desire to spend and concern about where the economy is going.

“We expect families to spend prudently and deliberately, though still less constrained than what we saw even two years ago,” Shay said.

It’ll be interesting to see how Whatcom County residents handle the holiday shopping season. Unless there is a dramatic turnaround in the Canadian dollar in the next few weeks, the big-box stores probably will have fewer Canadian shoppers than recent holiday shopping seasons.

LOCAL BREWERIES TAKE HOME MEDALS

A couple of local breweries took home medals from the 2015 Great American Beer Festival, held last month in Denver.

Chuckanut Brewery won two medals, earning a gold for its Chuckanut Kolsch German style ale and a bronze for its Dunkel Lager. Wander Brewing won a gold medal for its Wild Warehouse beer in the Wood- and Barrel-Aged Beer category. The festival had 6,647 entries from 1,552 breweries, according to a news release.

OTHER TIDBITS

A Bellingham building permit was filed to put in a new cellphone repair and sales shop at 3930 Meridian St. called Sidka Technologies. ... State liquor applications were submitted to sell beer and wine for The Green Barn at 211 Birch Bay-Lynden Road and at Twin Sisters Creamery at 6202 Portal Way.

Reach Dave Gallagher at 360-715-2269 or dave.gallagher@bellinghamherald.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BhamHeraldBiz and on Facebook at BellinghamHeraldBusiness.

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