East Valley retailers open doors earlier for Black Friday - East Valley Tribune: Apache Junction

East Valley retailers open doors earlier for Black Friday

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Posted: Wednesday, November 23, 2011 12:00 pm | Updated: 6:43 am, Fri Nov 25, 2011.

If you want to hit your favorite store during Black Friday, it's likely you won't have to set your alarm for 2 a.m. this year.

In fact, you may not want to even go to bed after Thanksgiving dinner.

Talk of the midnight openings has moved through the water coolers, radio and talk show discussions. Fact is, Arizona retailers are planning lots of sales to try and lure shoppers out of their turkey stupor.

Last year, more than 50,000 shoppers hit Chandler Fashion Center, said Devon Hoffman, senior marketing manager. For a third year in a row, the mall is planning a midnight opening. This year, it'll have one of its anchors - Macy's - onboard for the ride. There will be giveaways in the food court, and many retailers opening early are planning a "tiered" approach to sales, with deeper discounts early on.

Eight Westcor shopping centers are opening at midnight, six more than last year.

"Consumers are really looking for value. The retailers who are more promotional really benefit on Black Friday. People who are out are looking for deals," she said.

Though there's been some public debate about the moving up of the Black Friday clock, it's unlikely the stores will be empty when the doors do open.

"It's just been one of those phenomenon that there's just a lot of people where that's part of the holiday tradition," said Michelle Allen Ahlmer, executive director of the Arizona Retailers Association. "If there was not a request or demand from consumers to do it, retail wouldn't do it. There's just an interest on part of the public to have that be part of their holiday celebrations."

The National Retail Federation backs that idea. Last year, 24 percent of shoppers went out before 4 a.m., according to a survey by the group. There were triple the number of shoppers at midnight last year compared to 2009.

One sign of how holiday sales may add up comes months before Christmas, said Allen Ahlmer.

"We're anticipating a really good season. One of the indicators we look at every year are back-to-year sales. All the reports show August was a really good month for us. We're anticipating a lot of sales and traffic," she said. "For the consumer that means there will be a lot of bargains and opportunities for them to find what they're looking for, for friends and loved ones."

But many may have already done some shopping. With all the promotions going on - a shift that's taken place during the past few years - it's really become "Black November," she said.

The National Retail Federation is predicting there will be a 2.8 percent increase in holiday shopping - receipts calculated after Nov. 1 - to $466 billion in the U.S. That's far below last year's 5.2 percent increase, but consumers are reporting continued uncertainty with the economy, prompting the modest prediction, according to the website.

Small businesses are getting into the act as well, with a "shop small businesses Saturday" promotion planned.

"For the small retailers, there are just going to be a lot of opportunities for them to emphasize how much customer service counts. That's something the really small retailers can do, is help the staff understand that's where the staff can shine," Allen Ahlmer said.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-6549 or mreese@evtrib.com

 

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