SCRANTON -- With only five shopping days left before the Christmas holiday, it's the time businesses start to assess how well they're doing this holiday shopping season.
There have been a lot of changes this year at The Marketplace at Steamtown in downtown Scranton. The Marketplace at Steamtown got a new name in 2016 and its owner put into motion a lot of new plans for the once-struggling downtown mall.
We talked to shoppers and shop owners and got their take on the all-important holiday shopping season.
Shoppers milling around a mall are a sure sign that Christmas is coming. And shoppers here say the renamed Marketplace at Steamtown certainly looks more like the mall of Christmases past.
"Last Christmas was a little slow, it seemed. This Christmas seems to be a lot better because there's newer things going on, and it seems to be like it's up and coming and going to be great," said Patricia Fisher of Dunmore.
This is the second holiday shopping season since the former mall was sold to area businessman John Basalyga and a lot has already changed.
This year brought with it some non-retail tenants like Crunch Gym and Luzerne County Community College's Scranton Center. While the retailers say that brings with it more foot traffic, it hasn't really translated into more sales.
Shop owners say those new folks who visit to work out or go to class will stop in and browse, but they haven't been buying.
"It's a little bit slower than last year, not exactly sure why, but we're hopeful things are going to pick up," said merchant Lisa Smith.
Over the past several years, Lisa Smith and "Phyl Your Bags" have gone through ups and downs to become one of the marketplace's longest-lasting tenants. One of the newest – D&N Furniture -- opened its fourth location here just a few weeks ago.
"There's not much stores anymore, so a lot of people just browse around the first floor, they don't really come up here much often because there's not a lot of stores, but it's pretty good," said Evelyn Rodriguez of D&N Furniture.
Shop owners agree that the marketplace still needs diversity in retail. None that we talked to have any plans to leave though.
"It feels like we're on the upturn, that things are going to get better. We have faith in him."
The Marketplace at Steamtown is accommodating shoppers with extended hours through Christmas, and there's a busy 2017 in store, including the completion of the Scranton Public Market on the second floor.