By Katie Dahlstrom
Herald Staff Writer
As shoppers check credit card and bank account balances in preparation for the slashed prices and eye-catching discounts to be offered on Black Friday, retailers both big and small are simultaneously prepping for what they hope to be one of the busiest shopping days of the year.
Big box retailers such as Target and Wal-Mart have encroached on the holiday by opening their doors at 9 p.m. and 8 p.m. respectively.
Clinton Kohls manager Andrea Riley sees her store’s opening time of midnight as advantageous for her store’s sales.
“I think the thing that will help us in this community is opening at 12,” she said. “Other stores are opening earlier so people will shop there and then come here when we open.”
Riley said she is expecting this year to be larger than last year because of the focus on keeping the items customers want in stock.
“We have more inventory of the key items so customers won’t have to choose between retailers,” she said.
Numerous predictions, however, point to a mediocre Black Friday despite early openings beginning as families are clearing their tables and watching the final Thanksgiving football game.
According to a study by the National Retail Federation, nearly 147 million shoppers are expected to hit stores to take advantage of Black Friday deals, a decrease from the 152 million who planned to do so last year.
Small business owners in Clinton also are optimistic heading into the holiday shopping season. For these retailers, the focus is not only on Black Friday, but on the following weekend and weeks.
Many are rallying around Small Business Saturday, an initiative started by American Express in 2010 to increase patronage of small businesses.
“I think we’ll be busier than last year,” Brown’s Shoe Fit owner Steve Blackburn said of Black Friday. “I purchased the business three years ago and every year since then it’s gotten to be bigger.”
Blackburn said he’s made sure the shelves are stocked and ready for the influx of customers that will be opening their wallets when the store opens at it’s regular time.
“But it’s not just Friday, it’s the whole weekend,” he said.
According to Rob Cassidy, owner of Paul’s Discount store, while Black Friday is the busiest day of the year, (more than twice as busy as a typical Friday or Saturday) it doesn’t even fall into the top 10 for profitability.
“Our labor costs are the highest, we’re spending more money on advertising,” Cassidy said. Still, the store will be open at 5 a.m. Black Friday.
“It’s all part of being competitive,” he said.