Black Friday predictions rosy

Target in Mesa Mall will be among the stores planning to open their doors to Black Friday shoppers at 4 a.m.

Some stores are bending the unwritten rules of Black Friday this year, but plenty of local retailers are ready for business as usual.

Old Navy in Grand Junction and Dollar General in Montrose will be open on Thanksgiving Day. Other malls and stores are starting Black Friday as early as possible with midnight openings.

Mesa Mall Marketing Director Jammie McCloud said Mesa Mall has a sister property in Sandy, Utah, that will open at midnight Friday morning and have a “pajama lounge” for sleepy shoppers. But she doesn’t see that trend making its way east to Grand Junction anytime soon because Grand Junction is far enough away from other cities to avoid much competition.

“It’s all driven by shopper demand, and we’re not at that point here. I would say 4 a.m. is plenty early,” McCloud said.

Regardless of the start time, businesses are hoping to be busier this year than last year, and most experts agree they will get their Christmas wish. This year, 62.6 percent of people surveyed by the National Retail Federation said they will or may go shopping during the three days after Thanksgiving, up from 61.1 percent last year and 59.2 percent in 2008. The federation estimated nearly 60 million people will shop this Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the United States, and another 78 million said they may join the throngs searching for Black Friday weekend deals.

The National Retail Federation released crowd-management guidelines weeks ago to help stores plan for handling big crowds and quickly dissipating merchandise on Black Friday.

McCloud said department stores are the most popular spots for Black Friday shoppers, and all the department stores in the mall have planned how they will handle the influx of early morning shoppers. Sears, J.C. Penney, Target, Herberger’s, Aeropostale and American Eagle will open at 4 a.m. Friday. Cabela’s, Sports Authority and Zumiez will follow with 5 a.m. openings, and every store in the mall will be open by 6 a.m., with some keeping doors open until 11 p.m. Friday.

Dana Telsey, chief research officer and chief executive officer of Telsey Advisory Group, said unemployment and consumer confidence haven’t shifted much since the last holiday season, but store promotions and got-to-have-it items such as clothes and electronics led her to predict retailers will see a 4 to 4.5 percent jump in holiday sales this year compared to last year.

What will that money be spent on? Mike Niemira, director of research, chief economist and staff vice president of the International Council of Shopping Centers, predicts gift cards will be the No. 1 gift this holiday season, with two-thirds of people giving them, followed in popularity by clothes; toys or games; CDs, DVDs or music; and cash. He predicted 8 percent of consumers will purchase electronic readers such as Nook or Kindle as gifts, and 7 percent will buy iPads.

Black Friday weekend may be popular for shoppers on foot, but the next Monday became so popular in recent years with online shoppers it earned the nickname “Cyber Monday.” He doesn’t see online shopping taking a large hit this year, but Bill Kirk, chief executive officer of long-term-weather-prediction company Weather Trends International, said optimal weather and only scattered reports of people catching the flu this winter could be good for brick-and-mortar stores and deter some from online shopping.

Weather will also play a part in holiday shopping, with opposing weather patterns in November and December promoting retail success. Kirk said November’s snow reminded customers coming out of a warm October that the holidays and winter are approaching, prompting them to gobble up coats and heaters. Meanwhile, a dry, cold December will make sure people have clear road conditions for making numerous trips to stores to buy presents, he said.

Kirk said every day of Black Friday weekend should be an optimal one for shopping, with most of the country experiencing cold but sunny and snow-free weather, including the Grand Valley.


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