Posted on 29 November 2011.
By Jason Mullins
Retailers throughout the Tri-Cities region are reporting positive numbers numbers for their annual Black Friday sales.
Not long after many people were finishing their second or third helping of turkey and dressing Thursday night, sales associates were stocking shelves at stores across East Tennessee. Historically speaking, Black Friday is typically one of the most important days for American retailers.
Last year’s disappointing sales figures have prompted many retail establishments to offer more incentives to consumers to spend money in the November-December sales period.
In an effort to attract more consumers through their doors, some of the larger stores in the area opened far earlier than in past years. Stores such as Target, Kohl’s and Best Buy opened Thursday night at midnight, promising shoppers highly discounted prices on clothing, home accessories and electronics.
Area Wal-Mart stores began their official Black Friday sales Thursday evening at 10 p.m. Steve Johnson, an assistant manager at Wal-Mart of Elizabethton, said “sales were very good. It slowed down a bit by late Friday morning, but we were very busy earlier in the day.”
He said electronics continue to be the most popular gift choice for shoppers. Johnson commented their sales of flat-screen televisions were extremely brisk.
Johnson City electronics retailer Best Buy also reported positive numbers for their Black Friday sales. “It has been absolutely fantastic. we had close to record-setting turnout when we opened at midnight. Our top-sellers were TV’s, laptops and (global-positioning systems),” said Best Buy Manager Ed Zabel.
He said a large number of people were waiting when associates opened the doors at midnight. many electronics retailers across the country offered heavily discounted prices to attract business Friday.
Some stores, including Wal-Mart, were advertising flat-screen televisions for under $200.
Other retailers have drastically reduced prices on other electronics, including gaming systems for under $100. Electronics retailers are not the only local businesses to report initially positive results for Black Friday.
Elizabethton clothing and home accessories department store Peebles said they were pleased with the early part of Black Friday. Although the store did not report a consistent number of customers in the morning, they noted that they were still seeing customers spending money for gifts. They said their top-selling item through early Friday afternoon was Columbia jackets.
James Ward, a manager of Big John’s Closeouts in Elizabethton, told the STAR Friday morning their sales had been average since they opened earler in the day. He said he was hopeful that their sale items will draw both their loyal customer base and newer customers to the store.
One of the big winners on the Black Friday holiday was Mahoney’s on Sunset Drive in Johnson City. David Ramsey, who manages the outfitter’s department at Mahoney’s, said he was very pleased with customer turnout and their overall sales figures.
“The numbers have really been amazing. for the first 30 minutes after opening, we were packed,” said Ramsey. As of mid-afternoon Friday, Ramsey said “we were well-ahead of the numbers from Black Friday 2010.”
As far as their best-sellers, Ramsey noted Tom’s Shoes as an item selling quickly. “When a customer buys a pair of Tom’s Shoes, they will donate a pair to a child who needs shoes somewhere in the world. That’s a really great cause,” said Ramsey. He said other items selling well included fleece jackets, vests, gloves, guns and gun safes.
Ramsey said Black Friday is typically not the most important sales day for outdoor sports retailers. “For many of us, including Mahoney’s, Black Friday is not our top sales day. In most years, the last Satuday before Christmas is when we do the majority of our sales for the Christmas holiday,” Ramsey commented.
Area malls, including the Mall at Johnson City, were filled with customers. Early Friday afternoon around 2 p.m., the mall parking lot was at or near full capacity.
For those who decided not to battle crowds on Friday, many will choose to do some or all of their Christmas shopping through the Internet. Tomorrow, internet retailers will make their attempt to lure customers’ dollars on Cyber Monday.
The Internet’s version of Black Friday, Cyber Monday promises significant deals for consumers who want to avoid the crowded shopping malls, department stores and other retail establishments.
As part of their effort, some online stores will offer large discounts on clothing, electronics and other items. many will also provide free shipping to customers. The term Cyber Monday was coined in 2005 by the National Retail Federation as a way of marketing Internet sales.
In the United States, online sales for the Monday after Thanksgiving have increased from $610 million in 2006 to over $1.028 billion in 2010.
Last year, credit card giant American Express began promoting a marketing campaign aimed at increasing consumer spending at locally-owned businesses. Small Business Saturday was designed as a way to draw attention to downtown establishments across the United States.
Supporters of the campaign say Black Friday and Cyber Monday favor large corporations and big-box retailers, often at the expense of small businesses. Economists and local retailers are hopeful that positive numbers for the first weekend of the Christmas holiday will signify a profitable fourth quarter.
Sharing the cautious optimism of many local businesses, Ramsey said “if things stay on-track, we’re hopeful that it could be the sign of a good season for Mahoney’s.”
Area businesses report positive start to Christmas sales – Elizabethton Star