Merchants, shoppers gear up for Black Friday
Unlike the last two years, Candy Malterer said she is ready to brave the crowds and cold weather in the wee hours this Friday to scour retailers for deals on clothing and housewares.
“I think I’m going to be one of the people in line,” said Malterer, 47, adding her shopping budget was much tighter over the last two years.
“A lot of it was money,” Malterer said. “I think it’s going to be good this year. I see a little bit of a pick up, at least for some people. I’m hoping it has a good turnout, personally.”
She may be right. The National Retail Federation is expecting holiday retail sales of about $447 billion this year, an increase of 2.3 percent compared to the 0.4 percent increase last year and decrease of 3.9 percent in 2008.
“Though the retail industry is on stronger footing than last year, companies are closely watching key economic indicators like employment and consumer confidence before getting too optimistic that the recession is behind them,” said Matthew Shay, the president and CEO of the NRF.
Mary Ann Iverson, the store manager at Carson City’s Kohl’s, which opened in September, said the store’s employees will serve coffee and doughnuts to shoppers who arrive for the store’s 3 a.m. opening, which is an hour earlier than last year’s Black Friday at other Kohl’s sites.
“We’re so new here so we don’t know what to expect in our particular community,” Iverson said. “We expect to be doing how we did during grand opening. I’m kind of excited about Black Friday.”
Carson City’s JC Penney is opening its doors at 3:30 a.m.
“This year I wanted to open the store as early as I could,” said Bill Schipper, store manager, adding, “We’re starting to see growth, Kohl’s next door is only making us better. We got more people to help this year. We got more merchandise from last year on all our big deals. So we’re ready, we’re expecting big numbers.”
The earlier openings for retailers have been a growing trend in recent years, said Michael Brim, the founder of http://www.bfads.net, a website that tracks Black Friday advertising and retailer trends.
“We’ve all seen stores push forward their hours to kind of basically say if our competitor is going to open their doors at 6, we’re going to open ours at 4,” he said.
Brim said things like consumer electronics and children’s toys will be the big-ticket items this year, adding prices for items like flat-screen televisions have dramatically fallen compared to previous seasons.
“The problem is now you’re hitting a price war with some of these items,” he said.” So what we’re seeing is for laptops a higher quality product at the same price point.”
For example, big box retailers like Target and Walmart are selling LCD televisions for under $400 on Friday. In 2005, a similar TV would have cost more than $1,000.
“Basically quality is just trickling down,” Brim said.
Brad Wilson, the founder of http://www.BlackFriday2010.com, another website that tracks shopping deals, said consumers should be mindful of online deals, too.
“Ninety to 95 percent of Black Friday prices and deals are available online,” Wilson said. “Best Buy has committed to have all their in-store Black Friday prices available online as well.”
Unlike a decade ago, Wilson said consumers now have access to a wealth of information on Black Friday deals. Those options include websites like http://www.BlackFriday2010 and http://www.bfads.net or a number of apps for smart phones like TGI Black Friday, which lists hot deals offered by retailers.
“Ultimately, that empowers them to be able to plan ahead and talk to their friends,” Wilson said.
Aaron Doddridg, 30, and Sabrina Quezada, 22, said they were planning on shopping on Black Friday – their first time ever.
“We got the family going on so we’re trying to bargain hunt the best we can,” Doddridg said. “The economy hurts you a lot, but we’ve been lucky enough to work.”
Michelle Bracht, 23, said she’s finally ready to jump on the Black Friday bandwagon, too. As for why she didn’t before this year?
“I just didn’t want to wait in line,” she said.