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Black Friday redux? Sales aplenty

By Staff | Dec 27, 2008

The day after Christmas is typically set aside for returns, but now many retailers are trying to pick up the pieces from a slower shopping season and offer sales that challenge the infamous Black Friday.
This year’s Black Friday study by BIGResearch found that 172 million shoppers visited stores and Web sites after Thanksgiving, but a holiday wrap-up released by SpendingPulse — a shopping data service of MasterCard Advisors — reported that total sales had fallen between 2 and 5 percent this month.
While the after-Christmas bustle may not surpass other major shopping days, it’s certainly putting up a fight.
JCPenney in Cape Coral opened at 5:30 a.m. on Friday in anticipation of the shoppers. The store’s 100 “Doorbuster” sales ended at 1 p.m. and ranged from 50 to 80 percent on clothing, shoes, jewelry and bedding.
Rubin Irizarry, store manager for JCPenney at Coralwood Shopping Center in Cape Coral, said discounts were the same as on Black Friday but 100 additional items were on sale.
Friday morning began early with dozens of shoppers searching for the best discounts before sunrise, he said.
“We had 20 people waiting to get in at 5:30 a.m.,” said Irizarry. “I was kind of shocked. The traffic has been steady.”
The day after Christmas can have a high turnout not only for returns, but because many shoppers redeem gift cards. For teenagers, this period is the second biggest shopping period besides back-to-school because of gift cards.
And as a result of this trend, many of the discounted items are geared at teens.
“It’s mainly because of gift cards, a lot of people buy gift cards for teenagers,” he said.
Sears is another retailer which offered sales on Friday from 7 a.m. to noon with savings up to 75 percent on clearance items such as toys and Christmas seasonal items while K-Mart had up to 60 percent off on winter apparel.
Tom Aiello, spokesperson for Sears and K-Mart, outlined two differences between Black Friday in November and the after-Christmas sales Dec. 26 — the introduction of clearance items and that it’s the last time to take advantage of holiday sales.
“Right now a lot of our sales are on fitness equipment because people are getting ready for a New Year’s resolution,” said Aiello. “People are coming in with gift cards who want to make practical purchases, things like garage door openers, tires and appliances.”
Practical purchases are, in fact, remaining steady, according to SpendingPulse, while luxury purchases fell by 34 percent when compared to the same period in 2007. Electronic sales also took a heavy hit of 26 percent since last year.
Shopping the day after Christmas is becoming more popular, said Aiello, but mega-shopping days such as Black Friday are still what retailers shoot for all year.
“I think traditionally, Black Friday is one of the biggest shopping days of the season,” he said. “People come out early and take advantage of the deals but I don’t think it is at that level.”
Online retailers such as Amazon.com also offered deals for the week after Christmas. Amazon offered up to 70 percent on year-end deals including books, video games, toys and winter clothing. Overstock.com, a Web site that deals with liquidated excess inventory, offers Red Line Deals between 9 and 25 percent off.
Many sales continue today and through the weekend.