Beaufort County retailers primed for Black Friday

dburley@islandpacket.comNovember 27, 2013 

20081201 Shopping shape

TIM BEDISON — Fort Worth Star-Telegram

It might be called Black Friday, but this season, what is touted as the busiest shopping day of the year actually starts on Thanksgiving.

Most major retailers in Beaufort County are opening earlier than ever to ring in the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season. And with sales predicted to be sluggish this holiday season, department stores are offering deep discounts to capture customers' dollars, industry analysts say.

"All of our brands have very aggressive sales going on," said LaDonna Shamlou, general manager of Tanger Outlet Centers 1 and 2 in greater Bluffton. "Our shoppers keep lining up earlier. They want us here. They are knocking on doors telling us to open."

Tanger shops will open at 10 p.m. Thursday for Moonlight Madness and remain open through 9 p.m. Friday, the same as last year.

For the first time, JCPenney in Beaufort will open at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving, joining Target and Belk department stores in Beaufort County, which also will open at 8 p.m. Best Buy will open at 6 p.m., and Walmart at 6 a.m. Kmart will also open doors at 6 a.m. Thursday, close from 5 to 7 p.m., and then remain open until 11 p.m. Friday.

Opening on Thanksgiving, considered a family holiday, isn't entirely new for retailers.

The trend started a few years ago as companies began experimenting with Thanksgiving hours at their stores and launching early Black Friday deals online.

It seems to pay dividends. Last year, 28 percent of shoppers were in stores by midnight on Black Friday, up from 24 percent in 2011 and just 10 percent in 2010, according to the National Retail Federation.

Getting consumers face-to-face with Black Friday deals is crucial for retailers during the holiday season. The season -- traditionally from Black Friday through Christmas -- made up 19.3 percent of retailers' total sales in 2012, according to the National Retail Federation.

But predictions of how much consumers will spend this year remain weak or modest, and some analysts say this could be the worst shopping season since the Great Recession.

A retail federation survey showed shoppers are planning to spend an average of about $738 on gifts -- down 2 percent from what they spent last year.

"I think Black Friday will be incredible, but the rest of the four weeks will be very tough," said Britt Beemer, CEO of America's Research Group, a Charleston-based consumer-behavior research firm.

Although most chains will open on Thanksgiving, a few have made news for refusing to intrude on what they call sacred family time. Costco, Cabela's, Nordstrom and Menards are among the national retailers closed Thursday.

"As a family-owned company, Menards believes Thanksgiving is a time of togetherness. With this in mind, we will be closed on Thanksgiving Day so you and our team members can celebrate this joyous time with family and friends," a statement on the Wisconsin-based company's website said.

At Tanger, most of the outlets' 1,500 to 1,800 employees will be on hand for the Thursday night opening, along with extra security, Shamlou said.

She said employees and customers alike enjoy the "festive atmosphere" of holiday shopping, and it has become a tradition for many.

"By 10 p.m., a lot of people are done with their meals and ready to shop," she said. "People want to start the holidays shopping, whether in the evening or at 3 a.m."

"I've been doing this for years," she added, "and most of our employees seem to have a really great time."

Small Business Saturday

As part of a national movement to encourage shopping at local businesses, many stores in Beaufort are participating in "Small Business Saturday."

"You got Black Friday, you got Cyber Monday, this is a campaign to remind people to shop local," said Jaime Dailey-Vergara, spokeswoman for the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce. "You're helping to keep those dollars local."

Lulu Burgess, an eclectic shop on Bay Street, will run specials, hand out prizes to customers and serve refreshments, owner Nan Sutton said.

"Big boxes get all the glory on Black Friday," she said. "But I think small-town America is what it's all about. We're the little guys that move along every day."

Thanksgiving and Black Friday Store Hours

Best Buy

  • Thanksgiving open 6 p.m.
  • Black Friday close 10 p.m.

Belk

  • Thanksgiving open 8 p.m.
  • Black Friday close 10 p.m.

Dick's Sporting Goods

  • Thanksgiving open 8 p.m.
  • Black Friday close 10 p.m.

JCPenney

  • Thanksgiving open 8 p.m.
  • Black Friday close 9 p.m.

Kmart

  • Thanksgiving hours 6 a.m. - 5 p.m., reopen at 7 p.m.
  • Black Friday close 11 p.m.

Old Navy

  • Thanksgiving hours 9 a.m. - 3 p.m, reopen at 7 p.m.
  • Black Friday close 9 p.m.

Sam's Club

  • Thanksgiving open N/A
  • Black Friday open 5 a.m.

Target

  • Thanksgiving open 8 p.m.
  • Black Friday close 11 p.m.

Tanger Outlets

  • Thanksgiving open 10 p.m.
  • Black Friday close 9 p.m.

Walmart

  • Thanksgiving open 6 a.m.
  • Black Friday close Midnight

Follow reporter Dan Burley at twitter.com/IPBG_Dan.

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