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November 26, 2009
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Carson City retailers gear up for Black Friday

The Carson City J.C. Penney will open its doors at 4 a.m. Friday and store manager John Ruppert said he will be right there handing out candy canes and snow globes to those getting an early start to their holiday shopping.

"Black Friday is traditionally the biggest shopping day of the year," Ruppert said. "It will be a very good day for us."

Like other Carson City retailers, Ruppert said, he is hopeful for a fruitful Black Friday, the name given to the day following Thanksgiving when retailers historically turn a profit for the year.

But amid one of the steepest economic declines in generations as well as record high unemployment in Nevada, the prospects of a profitable Black Friday are considered to be only marginally better when compared to the 2008 shopping season, which was marred by the initial weeks of the global financial crisis.

Still, retailers will feature so-called "doorbusting" sales on Friday to attract customers, including free 14-volt power drills to 20- 60 percent discounts.

Besides sales, other retailers, such as Walmart and RadioShack, will be open on Thanksgiving Day.

Cheryl Remick, 44, of Gardnerville, said she will spend this Black Friday without one item: Her credit card.

"No charging, no credit cards, man. Cash," said Remick, who had been laid off from her job, but now works at Carson Tahoe Regional Healthcare.

A Gallup Poll conducted earlier this month found Americans are expected to fork out an average of $638 this holiday season, a decline of 14 percent from an October poll, but up from the $616 they spent last holiday season.

Translated to Nevada, that means retailers could expect about $1.2 billion in holiday spending this year, according to the Retail Association of Nevada.

"It's still less than what they have spent, but that's normal," said Mary Lau, president and CEO of the Nevada Retail Association. "The way the economy is right now and the way consumers are having to watch their money, it's really conservative if they're going to try to hold a budget for Christmas."

Meanwhile, the Retail Association of Nevada reported this month retailers are holding onto smaller inventories as a result of a tight credit market, making for fewer products in the back room and increasing the likelihood that many of the hottest items could be snapped up by the end of Black Friday.

Mid-price clothing inventories are about 8 to 13 percent smaller and home furnishing inventories are about 10 to 15 percent smaller this year, according to Karabus Management, a retail advisory firm.

Cyber Monday is likely to make another splash this year as more consumers make their purchases from their home computers instead of trekking to the shopping centers, Lau said, adding many online shoppers will be looking for deals such as free shipping.

"Shipping fees, it's just that much more money that takes away from their budget," said Lau, who added many consumers may hold out for post-holiday sales, opting for gift cards instead of making the big purchase before Christmas.

Still, Sue Jones, co-owner of the Purple Avocado in Carson City, said she's confident her business will do well this holiday season.

"Our business is down a little bit, but we feel very fortunate that we are still busy and that people enjoy coming to see us," Jones said.

Lynn Terrell, a nurse from Gardnerville, said she shops for the holidays throughout the year and does so with cash, no credit.

"I believe you should pay your bills first and what you have left over is what you spend," Terrell said.

Ron Titus, an employee at the Nevada Supreme Court, said more and more he and his wife are doing their shopping online. And while the amount they spend on gifts has decreased this year, "the list is just as long," he said.

"Watching it a little closer," Titus said. "You don't know what the next month is going to hold."

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The Nevada Appeal Updated Nov 26, 2009 01:30AM Published Nov 26, 2009 01:29AM Copyright 2009 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.