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Holiday shoppers hit the stores

By Staff | Nov 28, 2009

“Black Friday” received mixed views on how successful the day was for local sales and customer traffic but retailers remained optimistic — and there were bargains a plenty.
“Retailers came out swinging for Black Friday, offering some of the holiday season’s lowest prices on electronics, appliances, apparel and toys,” said Tracy Mullin, president and CEO, of the National Retail Federation in a prepared statement. “Budget-focused shoppers seemed to be pleasantly surprised with post-Thanksgiving deals, which many retailers will extend into Saturday and even Sunday.”
According to the NRF statement, approximately 134 million people are expected to shop on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday after Thanksgiving, a higher-than-estimated turnout over last year of 128 million people.
Although the turnout is projected to be greater, NRF stated that sales are expected to decrease by 1 percent to a total of $437.6 billion.
The NRF gathers its information from an economic model using housing data, unemployment numbers and previous monthly retail sales reports during. The data is collected with retail industry sales from November and December.
Crowds are after high definition televisions, labtops, winter coats and Zhu-Zhu pets this year, NRF officials predicted.
Kohl’s Store Manager Melanie Cramer said when they opened the doors at 4 a.m. Friday morning they already had approximately 500-700 people waiting in line.
“Traffic was good throughout the day,” she said. “The store has been very busy even leading up until today.”
Cramer said all of her customers have been in a great Christmas spirit while shopping on Black Friday.
She received “a lot of great comments with service and speed of the lines” throughout the day, Cramer added.
“We are value driven, so we have such great values for any size budget, customers are pretty confident that they can shop and find a $5 item they are looking for or a $50 item they are looking for,” she said.
Kohl’s hired new associates for the Christmas holiday, which Cramer said she has been very pleased with.
Some smaller store mangers were not as effusive.
Jane Heartz, owner and manager of June’s Hallmark, said she was very disappointed this year with the turnout she has received as of 3 p.m.
“We have been really slow,” she said. “We hope it’s going to pick up later on.”
For the first time this year June’s Hallmark provided its customers with half off of every Christmas item, Friday only.
“We have never done half off Christmas for Black Friday,” she said.
Heartz said she hopes it will pick up after shoppers head back into Cape Coral after visiting the mall.
“I am hoping people will see the half off sign and come in,” she said about the signs hanging in the window.
Although last year was pretty good the day after Thanksgiving, Heartz said the whole Christmas season was not good for sales.
She explained that she does not remember her store every being this slow, especially in the month of November.
Courtney Butts, a resident of Tampa travels home every Thanksgiving holiday to continue a Black Friday tradition, which began in 2004, with her father who lives in Cape Coral.
“It’s really about spending time with my Dad, it’s kind of our bonding moment, plus you get really good deals,” she said about why she hits the Friday sales every year.
Butts said this year she woke up at 3:40 a.m. to kick off her Black Friday adventure, so she could arrive at the first store by 4 a.m.
Butts explained that her shopping does not always include the hot item of the year.
The duo does research prior to Black Friday by scoping out the newspapers for all the best sales.
“We do Cape Coral first and then we cross the bridge and go to Fort Myers,” she explained of her annual shopping tradition.
Butts explained that her shopping plan included at least a dozen stores, which she said were all busy.
“I have never seen it yet where there are lines of less than hundreds of people,” she said. “It seemed like there was a ton of people wherever we went.”
When the Butts went to Target, she explained that the store was handing out maps to let shoppers know where items were located. She said she thinks Target handed out maps to try to keep people from rushing around the store looking for what they wanted.
She also explained that Best Buy, along with other electronic stores, had their sales ad located at the front of the store showing shoppers which items were sold out by crossing off the particular item.
Butts said she believed shoppers were purchasing electronics this holiday season.
“I have got the majority of my Christmas shopping done today, so all I have to do is wrap it,” she said.
At about 2 p.m. in the afternoon, Butts said they still had a couple hours left of shopping, which would conclude a planned 12-hour shopping day.