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Black Friday: Holiday shopping season gets under way

By Staff | Nov 26, 2014

With Black Friday right around the corner, retailers are offering big discounts on holiday gift ideas, while local law enforcement stresses the importance of shopping safely.

More than 140.1 million shoppers are predicted to take advantage of the early in-store and online savings this holiday season, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation. Six in 10 people surveyed – 61.1 percent – said they will or may shop on Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

Specifically, 67.6 million holiday shoppers or 29.5 percent said they will shop, while 72.5 million shoppers or 31.6 percent said they will wait and see if the deals are worth it before they decide.

“Consumers today want more than just the discounts they’ve been showered with since the start of the recession; they want exclusive offerings and a good reason to spend their discretionary budgets,” NRF President and Chief Executive Officer Matthew Shay said via a prepared statement released last week.

“We could witness a change this holiday season as consumers’ reliance on extremely deep discounts over the biggest shopping weekend of the year shifts to more of a ‘wait-and-see’ mentality around what retailers will be offering,” Shay continued. “We are positive retailers have a few tricks up their sleeve that will draw their customers to their stores and websites, deciding the deals are worth it after all.”

Locally, the Walmart Supercenter on Del Prado Boulevard South was ready to go Wednesday.

“It’s kind of the kick off for the Christmas shopping season,” Steve Durham, the store manager, said about Thanksgiving and Black Friday. “Hopefully, we’re able to satisfy their shopping needs.”

Some of the big tickets items for the Cape Coral store are iPad mini-tablets, gaming systems like the various PlayStations and big screen flatscreen televisions, including a 50-inch and a 60-inch one.

“As in every year, TVs are very popular,” he said.

The store also carries a good assortment of bicycles, which are surprisingly in high demand.

“We do particular well with bicycles,” Durham said of the early shopping days.

There are three holiday sales ads running for the local store. The first sale begins at 6 p.m. Thursday and offers discounts on a 50-inch TV and a 65-inch TV, the iPad mini-tablet and more. The second sale also kicks off on Thanksgiving at 8 p.m., with deals on a 32-inch TV for $89, a 60-inch TV and such.

“It’s basically across electronics and toys,” he said of the discounts.

The third sale starts at 6 a.m. on Black Friday. There are savings again on electronics and toys, but it stretches to other items including artificial Christmas trees, cosmetic sets and even vehicle tires.

“We have a percentage off on diamonds, also,” he said.

One of Walmart’s sales incentives on Thursday is the one-hour guarantee. If shoppers are in line for a product in the program up to one hour after 6 p.m. – the sale’s start – they are guaranteed the item at the sales price, even if the store runs out. Eligible shoppers get a tag to pick up the item at a later date.

“A lot of the merchandise is while supplies last,” Durham said.

Store officials are expecting a good turnout for the discounts over the next few days.

“As every retailer hopes to be, we hope to be busy,” he said. “It is obviously one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year.”

Because of this, Durham noted that the store will be crowded.

“The safety of our customers is always an important thing to us at Walmart,” he said. “Patience is always asked – make it a joyous event.”

While retailers are urging safety within their stores in the coming days, the Cape Coral Police Department pointed out that staying safe this shopping season should involve even more.

“Most of our crime is the crime of opportunity,” Officer Jerry Moll said.

Women who do not leave their purse at home should carry it close to their body while shopping. Men should avoid carrying their wallet in their back pocket, instead stashing it in their front pocket.

Do not leave packages or valuables in plain view in a vehicle, and lock all of the doors.

“If you buy something and return to your vehicle, put it in the trunk – out of sight, out of mind,” he said. “They’re not going to force entry into an empty car. If they can’t see it, they move on.”

If the vehicle does not have a trunk, bring a blanket or something to cover up the packages with.

While shopping, try to bring only your identification and cash or one credit card.

“Think of what you have in your purse,” Durham said. “Think of those items being stolen and how much work you’d have to do to get them back or get them reissued.”

As far as personal safety, be aware of your surroundings.

“It starts with where you park your vehicle,” he said. “You don’t want to park where it’s secluded.”

Drivers of smaller vehicles should avoid parking between two large trucks.

“The more open the area, the higher level of security you’ll have,” Durham said.

If you are shopping by yourself, tell someone what stores you are going to and keep their informed throughout the day. Shopping in numbers is suggested and helps provide an extra pair of eyes.

“If you can shop with someone so you don’t shop alone that’s recommended,” he said.

Lighting is also important, especially in the early hours on Black Friday.

“Take that extra minute to turn around and see where you are,” Durham said.

Going from store to store can be confusing, so shoppers who forget where their vehicle is parked should not leave the store, especially the elderly or people with physical disabilities.

“Don’t go wandering out in the parking lot looking for your vehicle,” he said. “Don’t leave your safe haven – don’t leave the store.”

Instead, ask for assistance from the store employees, store security or even the police.

Durham stressed that above all, shoppers should take their time.

“Make sure you have everything after checking out,” he said. “The hustle and bustle of the holidays – unfortunately, that’s where your criminal kinds prey on the mistakes.”

The Walmart Supercenter is at 1619 S. Del Prado Blvd S.