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Shoppers' delight creeps into holiday plans
This year more stores are opening earlier than ever before to welcome Black Friday shoppers who hope to grab holiday gifts at deep discounts. ‘More than 40 retailers inside West Park Mall will open at midnight Thursday for the first time. Last year only a handful of stores were open through the early morning hours on Black Friday, said mall leasing manager Mark Frazier.
Toys'R'Us isn't waiting until Friday. It will open at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving Day, an hour earlier than last year. Sears will open at 8 p.m., too. And Target has bumped up its opening to 9 p.m.
Kohl's and Best Buy will open at midnight, the same time as last year.
JCPenney is sticking with a more traditional Black Friday opening time of 6 a.m. Cape Girardeau's newest major retailer, Menards, will open at 5 a.m.
Old Navy tops the early Black Friday openings by offering deals Thanksgiving Day starting at 9 a.m. The store will close at 6 p.m. for a few hours to restock, reopen at midnight, and remain open until 11 p.m. Friday.
"Each store had a big get-ready meeting with all of our staff to pep them up and give them an idea how things are going to work. We have all of our staff working at some point that day," said Tammy Maddock, service and training manger at Old Navy in West Park Mall.
The store will provide meals for its employees in an effort to keep them happy and refreshed and keep their spirits up, Maddock said.
"We look forward to it. You can set the attitude for your store. We just have as much fun as we can because if we're glad to be here and we're having fun then our customer is in a better mood," she said.
This will be the second year that small-business owner Mary Ann Sample's will open her store, Imagine That located inside West Park Mall, at midnight.
"Last year I thought no one would be here. I thought everybody would be at Walmart and Target. Being a local business person, I don't run the big giant specials, but I was packed from about 11:30 p.m. to 3 a.m.," she said. "I was just really, really shocked."
Based on last year's response, she opted for a midnight Thursday opening again this year and is giving away 50 "Black Friday Survival Kits" with bottled water, notebooks, highlighters and snacks.
Black Friday is the biggest single shopping day of the year, kicking off the holiday shopping season, which Sample said accounts for 30 percent of her annual revenue. She recently returned from a buying trip to gather the handmade items she features in her store. Sample said she takes pride in meeting and shaking hands with the people who create her merchandise.
"The bottom line is you have to offer the best product for the best price," she said. "Most of our stuff is made by hand and I buy only within the United States. We will have the shelves stocked and be ready to go."
Retailers hope the longer hours will encourage shoppers to spend more money, although the National Retail Federation expects holiday sales this year to increase less than last year. In 2011, holiday sales grew 5.6 percent from 2010. 2012 sales are expected to increase only 4.1 percent to $586.1 billion.
A survey by the International Council of Shopping Centers and Goldman Sachs released last week found that about 19 percent of shoppers plan to spend more -- and only 5 percent substantially more -- on holiday gifts this year than they did last year.
The top holiday gift items, according to the survey, are gift cards, apparel, toys and games.
Consumers said the top three things they would like to receive this year are gift cards, electronic gadgets and electronic media including CDs, DVDs and e-books.
Holiday hiring is expected to be about this same as last year, with retailers adding between 585,000 and 625,000 seasonal workers. In 2011, 607,500 holiday employees were added by U.S. retailers, according to the National Retail Federation.
Cape Girardeau, Mo.