Black Friday’s long lines and mega bargains draw out early morning shoppers every year the day after Thanksgiving, and this year some stores even opened as early as Thursday night.
Black Friday gets its moniker for helping businesses go into the black or positive revenue. And this past weekend was no exception. John Fleming, with the Florida Retail Federation, says retail stores make anywhere from 20 to 40 percent of their annual sales during the holiday season. He said this weekend went well for Florida.
“So far so good, we’re off to a strong start is what it looks like, and it looks like we’re gonna close out the year 2012 very strongly,” Fleming predicted.
Holiday retail is an economic powerhouse here in the state. According to Fleming about 40 thousand seasonal employees will be hired to help in stores and close to 60 billion dollars will be spent from November to December. Federation forecasters predicted a 5.2 percent increase in statewide holiday shopping this year. They say consumer confidence and an increase in big ticket purchases are at the root of this uptick. Eric Litz the General Manager of the Governor’s Square Mall here in Tallahassee, said this year’s Black Friday was a great start to the Holiday season.
“Friday traffic was early, and heavy. We had 50% of our tenets open at midnight; several of our department stores were open early, plus the “big box”-es on the parkway are always open early so this sector of Tallahassee was very lively around midnight when we opened,” Litz said.
He says on a normal weekend the mall sees about 20 thousand shoppers, with Black Friday weekend that number went up to 35-40 thousand more visitors. But Litz noted, you add this weekend’s Florida State versus Florida football game, and that number went even higher.
“Probably close to a hundred thousand people from opening on Black Friday to close on Sunday,” Litz said.
But not everyone enjoys Black Friday shopping. Kayla Smith, a Tallahassee resident, said that, even with the mega savings and door buster deals, she would rather avoid it all together.
“To me I would rather pay the extra then to actually go through the hassle of standing in line and trying to beat the rush,” Smith said.
And contrary to what you might think, Black Friday isn’t welcomed by all store owners either. Joe Berg, President of Locally Owned Tallahassee, a small business coalition, thinks Black Friday may actually hurt local store owners.
“For local businesses its good because it announces the beginning of the shopping season, but its also bad in a lot of ways because they find themselves pushed out by major chains that have unbridled buying power, marketing budgets, and also the ability to out source,” Berg said.
Berg said the challenge is reminding shoppers about the impact of these local stores, adding that a dollar spent locally has twice the benefit to Tallahassee than a dollar spent at a big chain store. He says that because of looming tax increases and sequestration, he expects holiday spending to look sluggish this year. Final reports for holiday shopping are expected in about six weeks.