Stores jump-start Black Friday [Messenger-Inquirer, Owensboro, Ky.]By Joy Campbell, Messenger-Inquirer, Owensboro, Ky.McClatchy-Tribune Information Services
Nov. 22--National retailers in Owensboro are getting the jump on Black Friday shopping -- actually starting special sales Thursday.
Their earlier hours for Black Friday shopping coincide with the start times retailers Walmart and Kmart have set for their "door-buster sales" events.
Other Owensboro retail stores will start their Black Friday sales at midnight, with some going their own way with various hours of operation.
A survey of a dozen local stores shows that while there's not a consensus on the start time for Black Friday sales this year, several pushed out earlier than last year when midnight was the most popular pick. "Earlier" seems to be the trend. In 2010, 4 a.m. was the "go" time.
Black Friday got its name from retailers' claims that sales on the Friday after Thanksgiving -- their busiest shopping day -- could put them "in the black." For years it has been viewed as the start of the Christmas shopping season.
Dollar General Store will be open on Thanksgiving Day with stores in Owensboro promoting a one-day sales event from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Their Friday sales start at 7 a.m., with most open until 9, but some may be open later.
The Sears store in Towne Square Mall is advertising that its Thanksgiving Day sales start at 8 p.m. with the store open all night and more special sales Friday starting at 4 a.m.
The Owensboro Target store at 5151 Frederica St. opens its doors at 9 p.m. Thursday and closes at 11 p.m. Friday. That's a full three hours earlier than the retail chain's last year's midnight Black Friday sale start. The early hours were set for all Target stores.
Sales Floor Manager Bob Irizarry said the staff is expecting once again to have lines outside the store before the doors open. For shoppers in line who are seeking a limited supply item, vouchers will be handed out so they may go directly to the department and purchase their items.
Once again, security officers will be stationed outside for crowd control, and stanchions will be set up for traffic flow, he said.
"Target has been around a long time," Irizarry said. "We have an experienced sales force. We'll be ready."
The National Retail Federation estimates from its survey that 71 million people are actually planning to shop on Black Friday weekend, which is Friday through Sunday, with another 76 million saying they will check out what retailers have featured this weekend. That total 147 million is down from last year's 152 million estimate for the weekend.
The Black Friday tradition is here to stay, but it has changed in recent years, according to the NRF. "It's critical for retail companies to constantly evolve as consumers do, and right now shoppers want great deals, good value and convenience -- exactly what we're seeing with this season's late and early openings, price-matching, layaway and mobile offerings."
JCPenney's in Towne Square Mall is taking a different, and some retail analysts say, risky, approach to the early Christmas shopping season with a 6 a.m. opening planned. The national retailer's CEO said he's honoring a tradition by keeping stores closed on Thanksgiving, according to a Dallas Morning News business blog.
"I hope our customers and employees all enjoy a wonderful holiday with loved ones," CEO Ron Johnson said in an email to customers on Monday. "And when we open at 6 a.m. the following day, we'll be honoring another great American tradition -- Black Friday -- with our one big sale of the year."
Johnson said after comparing Penney's prices to other retailers, he's "confident the stores have the best values on a wide range of gifts."
Best Buy, Macy's and Kohl's all will be opening their doors at midnight for Black Friday shopping.
Employees at Menards, 3001 Highland Crossing off of Kentucky 54 at the U.S. 60 interchange, will be experiencing their first Black Friday. The store will open at 5 a.m., with a 10 p.m. closing.
The store will go back to its 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. hours on Saturday and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.
"We'll have a six-hour sale on Friday from 5 to 11 a.m. with some incredible deals," said Store Manager Tim St. Louis."We'll have sales all day each day throughout the weekend."
The company doesn't hire extra help for the holidays, he said.
"Menards doesn't do layoffs," St. Louis said. "We bulk up the hours of our regular staff and count on them for these special sales."
Menards, which opened May 8, employs about 200 people.
Walmart is open 24 hours, so Owensboro's two locations are not expecting long lines to get in, but both store managers said Wednesday they are anticipating huge crowds with three major sales events at 8 and 10 p.m. Thursday and 5 a.m. Friday.
"We think the crowds will be as big as usual if not bigger," said Neil Rumohr, store manager at the 5031 Frederica St. Walmart. "A lot of our competitors are opening earlier, so a lot of folks will be out shopping."
Walmart's store at 3151 Kentucky 54 also is expecting huge crowds for Black Friday, store manager Jim Wheatley said. "We have a lot more sale items this year than last year."
New this year at all Walmart stores is a "three items guaranteed" in stock sale from 10 to 11 p.m. Thanksgiving Day for shoppers who are in line to get three advertised special sale items -- a TV, iPad and Blu-ray player. If supplies run out, shoppers will receive a gift card that guarantees delivery of the item to the store before Christmas. But store managers said they have a lot in stock.
Kmart stores nationwide have a new game plan for Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday.
"We've completely gone away from our old model," said Brian Schroeder, store manager at Kmart's 2760 Frederica St. store. The stores also offer layaway on Black Friday and all weekend, he said.
"We've been open on Thanksgiving Day before, but we've created some new excitement," said Mark Page, Kmart's store manager at 2815 W. Parrish Ave. "Our deals this year are the most aggressive I've seen."
Kmart stores will be open from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thanksgiving Day; re-open at 8 p.m. Thursday through 3 a.m. Friday; re-open at 5 a.m. Friday and close at 11 p.m. Kmart stores also send sales staff outside before they open to give out tickets for sales items and let shoppers know where items are located.
Home Depot at 4150 Frederica St. and Lowe's at 415 Fulton Ave. are closed on Thanksgiving Day. They both start Black Friday sales at 5 a.m.
Other retail outlets have a mixed bag of store hours Friday. Several fast food stores are open 24/7, but others are adjusting hours with earlier opening and later closing times.
Joy Campbell, 691-7299, email@example.com
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