Retailers looking for big season

Free. That’s the best kind of jacket,” said a Stage shopper.
By PRESTON GILL pgill@daily-review.com

Black Friday creep continues. With the exception of a few grumbles about violating Thanksgiving as a day of thanks rather than a shopping day, local consumers bought into the idea of discounted holiday prices starting earlier.
Retailers have tried to lure shoppers into their establishments for years with the enticement of steeply discounted bargains on the day after Thanksgiving. But the truth is that retailers were looking for a profitable season well before Black Friday.
Before the turkey had time to digest, many shoppers were out looking for the best deals on their Christmas shopping list Thanksgiving evening. Thursday, Bayou Vista Walmart’s parking lot overflowed with vehicles that spilled into parking at adjoining businesses as eager shoppers looked to save a few dollars.
“That place was pandemonium,” said Morgan City resident Helen LeFleur of the packed store after she spent an hour and a half in the store herself. “It was a war zone,” she said as she looked over her receipt attempting to calculate how much money she had saved.
Stage began promising savings earlier this week with a buy one, get one free promotion on Tuesday and Wednesday. One shopper was proudly showing off his “free” jacket he had purchased at the Morgan City store Wednesday. “Free. That’s the best kind of jacket,” he said.
Store manager Rosalyn Hawkes said Wednesday that they will be serving hot cocoa to Stage customers who may be standing in lines in the near freezing temperatures to get shopping discounts the store is offering.
National Public Radio said language guru Ben Zimmer, producer of the Visual Thesaurus, writes that the term “Black Friday” originated in the 1960s in Philadelphia. Traffic was so bad the day after Thanksgiving that police officers had to work 12-hour shifts. So they gave the day a negative — and memorable — name. Retailers eventually co-opted the negative term and morphed it into a positive term to indicate it is an opportunity for them to turn their business into the “black.”
Stephanie Torres, manager of Aarons Sales and Lease in Bayou Vista, said Black Friday exceeded their expectations last year and she expects another good year this year.
“We are hopeful and we are prepared,” Torres said. The store had ran out of its advertising circulars last week which she felt boded well for the numbers she would see coming to her store.
Torres pointed out that this year the calendar did retailers a favor because Black Friday falls on a day when more people will get paid than normally is the case. People who get paid on the first of the month will have their paychecks by Black Friday this year, she said.
But Black Friday creep has given shoppers, and retailers, a burst of adrenaline, even before Thanksgiving.
USA Today reported that some retailers started well before Stage began its buy one, get one free promotion. The magazine said stores such as Sears and the Disney Store introduced Black Friday-style doorbusters on the Friday before Black Friday.
Some local retailers think the early jump on sales will find a receptive market in buyers that have already shown a proclivity to spending money this year.
Scott Glenn, owner of Joe’s Boots in Morgan City, said his store has been busier than last year at this time. He said Joe’s Boots may exceed last year’s successful season with a record-breaking year.
Hawkes shares a similar optimism regarding consumers’ willingness to spend this year.
“We are doing good this year,” Hawkes said. “Tuesday we did extremely well even with the bad weather.”
Stage is looking for a 12-percent increase in sales over last year for the month and is nearly doubling its expectations for Thursday and Friday sales this week over last year, Hawkes said.
Don’t despair if you missed out of Thanksgiving, or Black Friday or even pre-Black Friday sales. Time magazine reports that many of the best deals don’t pop up until Black Friday weekend has passed.
The magazine references deal news as recommending the week of Dec. 8 to 14 as the best period for low prices on toys and said the consultants at ShopperTrak claim Wednesday, Dec. 4, hits the sweet spot for shoppers looking for the Nirvana of great prices combined with minimal crowds. Then there is the addition in recent years of online shopping Monday with many 50 percent-off deals offered on internet sites during Cyber Monday.
Procrastinators and last minute shoppers beware: If you plan on holiday shopping and have not begun yet, Time points out a glitch in the calendar means fewer days than usual between Black Friday and Christmas.
So, if you have not started yet, you have fewer days to complete your shopping than normal.

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