News Column

Early Sales Spread Out Business

Nov. 26, 2012

Seth Johnson, Fergus Falls Daily Journal, Minn.

With Black Friday starting on Thanksgiving in many stores this year, local retailers saw less chaos but more traffic.

"Black Friday was a little bit different this year because everything happened on Thursday," said Kmart store manager Chad Kussatz. "A change in shopping patterns was key. A lot of shoppers took advantage of shopping Thursday night. I think customers like 8 p.m. shopping over 5 a.m. shopping a lot more."

Kussatz said he saw at least as many shoppers this year as he has in recent years. The difference was the pace in which shoppers came through the store.

Walmart saw similar trends in its first "Gray Thursday" opening. The store had three events: 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Thursday and 5 a.m. Friday.

"We had a great customer turnout, so I think they enjoyed themselves," said Walmart store manager Tim Bosworth. "They didn't all have to get up so early in the morning. I would say it spread out the traffic, but we had more traffic than last year."

Both Kussatz and Bosworth said they liked the change to a Thursday night opening.

"I've been involved in retail for 20 years, and this was the slowest paced Black Friday I've ever seen," he said. "I think this is what most stores will do in the future."

Downtown was a bit of a different story. Biffley's Bookmark was closed on Thursday, and saw increased sales on Friday.

"Sales were very good," said Bob Stout, owner of Biffley's. "We had higher dollar amount sales per person, and more Internet sales over last year."

"This was our first year here," said Keith Erickson, owner of the Sears store downtown. "There were a lot of people- we're very happy."

"We weren't too hectic until the afternoon on Friday," said Paul Lundeen of Victor Lundeen Company. "Our sale started Friday, and went into Small Business Saturday. Overall our sales were up about five percent in November over last year."

Westridge Mall may have benefitted from other stores opening on Thursday.

"We had quite a crowd waiting when we opened our doors at midnight," said Herberger's store manager Jill Williamschen. "We seemed busier than last year -- after the initial rush at midnight, sales picked up again at 7 a.m. and we stayed busy both Friday and Saturday."

Several business owners commented that the chilly weather and poor driving conditions may have kept shoppers close to home this year, increasing local sales.

Source: (c)2012 the Fergus Falls Daily Journal (Fergus Falls, Minn.) Distributed by MCT Information Services

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