FAIRFIELD - While many national chain stores reported sales figures for the 2008 holiday season were the worst in 40 years, some local merchants say they fared much better.

Small retailers in downtown Fairfield say they were pleasantly surprised by the increase in sales over this holiday season compared to last year.

Maria Scasino, owner of the boutique La Moda Clothing, says her one-of-a-kind sweaters and jewelry kept regular customers willing to shop.

"We had a lot of our local customers that are very loyal to us year to year," says Scasino. "We were busy up until Christmas Eve."

Another boutique owner selling custom clothing says her business also did well. "I think the bigger stores will hurt more. They have a giant inventory," says Jennifer Butler.

Meanwhile, other local retailers say they'll see what 2009 brings and remain optimistic. Joe Sica, owner of The Tennis Spot, says his business made it through past recessions, and he knows it'll make it through this one too.