For big-box stores, Black Friday marks the beginning of that busy shopping season. The Friday after Thanksgiving is the biggest shopping day of the year for many national chains.
The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas can account for between 20 percent and 40 percent of all the cash some retailers bring in throughout the year, said GRA President Rick McAllister.
Jennifer Adams, store team leader at Target in Marietta, is bracing for big crowds and said they’ll arrive early.
“We had a pretty big first four hours (last year) and that’s where we’re looking to see the most rush,” said Adams of her store at 2535 Dallas Highway, Marietta, near Barrett Parkway.
About 400 shoppers were waiting in line before the store opened its doors last year, Adams said, and police officers were on hand for crowd control.
Electronics, toys and small appliances like vacuum cleaners are the items that draw crowds and disappear quickly.
It takes a large staff to make the day go smoothly, Adams said, but most of the work comes before the throng of shoppers eagerly make their way through the door.
“A lot of our preparation goes into getting the floor full before we actually open the doors,” Adams said.
She expects the same big crowd the department store presented last year.
Her prediction isn’t far off.
The state retail association says Georgia holiday sales are expected to be up slightly over 2012 sales. Nationwide, 140 million people plan to shop over the weekend, according to the National Retail Federation, though that’s less than the 147 million that had the same plan last year.
“Consumers appear to be shaking off some of the bad news from Washington, D.C. The federal government shutdown this fall had an impact on consumer confidence, but we remain cautiously optimistic that most retailers will see an uptick in holiday sales,” said McAllister. “Retailers overall could see about a 3 percent average gain in sales, which would represent a healthy increase.”
He also expects the week’s unusually cold weather will boost clothing sales. Strong demand for new gaming consoles, like the recently released PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, could lead to growth in electronics sales.
Online shopping is also expected to rise and sales on Cyber Monday — the Monday after Thanksgiving that brings online discounts — could gain as much as 15 percent.
Consumers may be more willing to reach a little deeper into their wallets this year as job growth continues to increase slowly in Georgia, McAllister said, though the state still lags behind the national average.
“Shoppers are still bargain driven, but they are more optimistic about the economy next year,” McAllister said.
Smaller retailers don’t see the same crowds that national chains do, said Elizabeth Auman, assistant manager at Betsy’s Hallmark, in Merchant’s Walk, 1289 Johnson Ferry Road, Marietta.
She’ll still see her fair share of Black Friday shoppers as customers visiting nearby major retailers, like clothing stores Steinmart and Kohl’s, take notice of the stop.
For the specialty gift store, the weeks before and after Christmas are the busiest, Auman said, but those patrons seem to be arriving early this year.
“We’ve seen shoppers already because there’s been six days less between Thanksgiving and Christmas,” Auman said.