Retailers report Black Friday gains

By CARLIE KOLLATH / NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Retailers say they are off to a better holiday season than last year, citing the weekend’s Black Friday shopping figures.
About 235,000 people were at The Mall at Barnes Crossing on Friday, according to general manager Jeff Snyder. The number of potential shoppers was up almost 8 percent from last year.
According to the National Retail Federation, 212 million shoppers visited U.S. stores and websites over Black Friday weekend, up from 195 million last year.
People also spent more, the NRF said, with the average shopper spending $365.34, up from last year’s $343.31. Total spending reached an estimated $45 billion.
In Northeast Mississippi, shoppers showed up early and stayed late. The first store at The Mall at Barnes Crossing opened at 3 a.m. and the mall didn’t close until 10 p.m.
“One of our stores had $30,000 by 8 a.m.,” Snyder said. “And this wasn’t a department store. It was a 3,000-square-foot store. … Most everybody made their numbers.”
The stores that didn’t make sales projections, he said, opened later than their neighbors or didn’t offer discounts.
“If you have what you always have and don’t offer incentives, you won’t do as good,” he said. “Black Friday is for deals.”
Shoppers at Kohl’s definitely were on the prowl for deals, said manager Bill Warren.
“The doorbusters went first,” Warren said. “They were here for a reason.”
He said 600 people were outside the doors when the store opened at 3 a.m., an hour earlier than last year. Last year, about 250 to 300 people were at the doors for the 4 a.m. opening.
“Opening early helped us so we weren’t doing a tug-of-war with the other stores that opened at 5 or 6,” Warren said. “It was an adrenaline rush. We all enjoyed it.”
Old Navy also opened earlier than last year – midnight instead of last year’s 3 a.m. Manager Sherri Lindsey said the earlier hours allowed shoppers to spread out their shopping.
“We saw successes,” she said. “We definitely beat last year’s numbers.”
Downtown retailers in Oxford and Tupelo also opened earlier than usual.
Kim Leathers, owner of Monogram It! in downtown Tupelo, opened at 7 a.m. She was closed last Black Friday so she doesn’t have sales to compare her figures with, but as a general sales day, she said it was “fabulous.”
“We had new customers and old ones,” she said. “I feel like it was a successful day.”
Neilson’s in Oxford also opened at 7 a.m. and manager Amanda Hyneman said people were waiting in their vehicles for the store to open.
“We didn’t know if anyone was going to show up but they did,” she said. “We had a great day. We were busy all day.”
The store got a boost from the extra people in town for the Ole Miss-Mississippi State football game and from in-store discounts.
Shopper counts and sales, she said, were up from last year and from 2008, when Oxford last hosted the Egg Bowl.
Neilson’s already is planning to open at 7 a.m. for Black Friday 2011.
The Mall at Barnes Crossing is thinking about its Black Friday 2011 hours, too, Snyder said. This year, all of the stores were open by 6 a.m. It was an hour earlier than last year and Snyder said he can see the mall opening even earlier next year.
“It’s going to be a whole new ballgame deciding hours next year because we opened early,” he said. “You have to be open when the customers want to shop.”
Contact Carlie Kollath at (662) 678-1598 or carlie.kollath@djournal.com.