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Dec 11, 2015 4:46 PM

Downtown Portsmouth retailers lure holiday shoppers

PORTSMOUTH - Portsmouth retailers are working overtime to lure shoppers downtown as the trend toward online shopping continues to negatively affect mom and pop shops. During this year's Black Friday weekend, 103 million Americans shopped on-line, while only 102 million shoppers visited stores.

"All bricks and mortar stores are challenged by online. But people do their big box store shopping and online shopping and then they want the Christmas experience," said Assiah Russell who chairs the Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce's Retail Committee.

To create that charming, cozy, Christmas atmosphere, the Chamber helped launch what it's calling a "Vintage Christmas" in downtown Portsmouth. In addition to decorating their storefronts, retailers are extending their hours and carolers are strolling the sidewalks on weekends to entertain shoppers.

Though city officials decided to cut short the number of free parking days this season, there is a free shuttle available from the nearby Community Church in Portsmouth to the downtown shopping area. Parking at the Church is also free. For more information on parking and daily events, visit the Chamber of Commerce website at : or

Even though the unseasonably warm weather has brought out a lot of window shoppers, online bargain wars and free shipping continue to erode in-store sales. Last month's Black Friday weekend, saw in-store sales fall more than 10 percent. Local retailers say this season will be a true test of whether or not these small mom and pop shops can continue to survive in downtown America.

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