Shoppers, stores map out strategy for Black Friday - East Valley Tribune: Business

Shoppers, stores map out strategy for Black Friday

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Posted: Saturday, November 20, 2010 12:00 pm | Updated: 3:57 pm, Tue Nov 30, 2010.

After the thanks are said, the turkey is gone and the bellies are full, Shelly Flores will gather the ads from Thursday's newspaper and map out plans for Black Friday with friends and family.

One person will hit Target. One will hit Kohl's. Another goes to Walmart. They all have each other's shopping lists.

By midnight, they'll be in lines with chairs and reading material.

"I'm usually finished shopping by 7 or 8 in the morning. Then I come home and take a nap for a couple of hours," she said.

It's been a tradition for years for the Mesa mom of four.

Retailers - especially the brick and mortar kind - are hoping many others follow Flores' idea.

There will be no shortage of shopping stops for people who want to start their own Black Friday tradition - or get an early jump on everyone else Thursday.

Sears will be open Thanksgiving morning. Some Old Navy and Gap stores will as well. Toys "R" Us plans to open at 10 p.m.

After Thanksgiving, Chandler Fashion Center opens at midnight. Target's doors open at 4 a.m. Friday Best Buy plans to open at 5 a.m.

Shoppers may have a little spending frenzy this holiday season and Arizona's retailers could benefit.

Michelle Ahlmer, executive director of the Arizona Retailers Association, said there is a bit of "pent up demand" with shoppers that may result in bigger sales online and in the brick and mortar stores.

"We are cautiously optimistic it's going to be a good holiday season," Ahlmer said.

Several shops launched major sales earlier this month. Dozens of Black Friday ads can be found online already.

"Foot traffic is starting to build. Retailers are starting early," Ahlmer said. "We're holding onto our earlier projections of a 2 to 3 percent increase" over last year.

The National Retail Federation said it expects holiday sales nationwide to increase 2.3 percent from 2009 to $447 billion. Last year saw only a 0.4 percent increase, while in 2008 retailers saw a holiday sales decline of 3.9 percent.

Arizona tends to perform about the same or better than the national average, Ahlmer said, because of winter visitors.

Westcor, which owns several shopping centers in the East Valley, is also seeing retailers start specials, said spokeswoman Kimberly Hastings.

"People are starting earlier. This year, too, so many of the shoppers are still looking for value. So many of the retailers are looking to tap into that. That's why they're starting so early," she said.

Hot items this year - and most holidays - include electronics, Ahlmer said.

"It still is and is getting more so. There are some screaming deals on TVs and laptops. It's going to be a consumer friendly Christmas," she said.

Some store owners said families are looking for gifts that bring them together, but not around the TV.

Corey Understiller's family owns HobbyTown USA in Gilbert. The store sells remote control cars and planes, train sets, model cars, rockets, puzzles and games.

"The past couple of weeks everything is starting to pick up," Understiller said. "We've had a lot more business. We're preparing to be really busy. A lot of parents come in looking for gifts for their children. It's fun to get the family into a hobby."

But there are some shoppers who would rather avoid the crowds.

"Online is going to take it hands down - double digit increases - which is kind of concerning for us. We want people in the stores, too," Ahlmer said.

Arizona will still benefit, she said, if the shoppers buy from companies that have a presence here.

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