‘Black Friday’ sales some of the best ever in state
In retailing, the day after Thanksgiving — traditionally the biggest shopping day of the year — is known as “Black Friday.” And while that nickname harkens to the fact that the biggest sales day also means the heaviest work day of the year, Mississippi retailers were anything but gloomy about ringing up record sales with some of the highest customer traffic counts ever seen.
“The Friday after Thanksgiving was the largest day in sales and traffic that the Mall at Barnes Crossing has ever had,” said Jeff Snyder, general manager of the mall in Tupelo. “We’re trying to figure out what the ceiling is going to be. Last year we had 35,079 cars. This year we had 38,500 cars. Individual stores had sales increases of 10% to 38%.”
Snyder said the mall generally expects an 8% sales increase each year. This year the mall had an 11% increase going in to the holiday season. He believes a strong customer turnout early in the holiday shopping season portends an excellent season.
“We were extremely pleased with Friday’s sales,” Snyder said. “A lot of the stores had the early sales, and that stimulated a lot of early buying. We feel like a good merchant mix along with a strong local and national economy really contributed to a lot of the big increases. Also the retailers worked extra hard on customer service and having enough of the hot items, and a good selection of merchandise.”
Mississippi Gulf Coast
Marcia Bunge, marketing director for the Coast’s Edgewater Mall, also reported strong sales.
“Sales started out very strong early Friday morning, and continued to be so throughout the day,” Bunge said. “Traffic was excellent Friday. We don’t have all the reports in for the weekend, but it looks like we had a good weekend. We are looking forward to a good season.”
Meridian, Hattiesburg and Vicksburg
Sales were also good at Mississippi malls owned by CBL & Associates Properties Inc.: Bonita Lakes Mall in Meridian, Turtle Creek Mall in Hattiesburg and the Pemberton Square Mall in Vicksburg.
Bob Jenkins, regional marketing director for CBL, said Bonita Lakes Mall had its second biggest shopping day ever with about 57,000 visitors. That was eclipsed only by their grand opening, which attracted 62,000 people.
Jenkins observed long lines of shoppers waiting to get in for the early sales.
“It was a very busy day,” Jenkins said. “I don’t think people were disappointed. As the day wore on, customers got tired and weary. Merchants were happy it was so busy. When you try to handle that kind of traffic load, it can be taxing on you as a merchant. But everybody seems to be really pleased.”
Jenkins said one trend he has noticed is more men shopping early in the season.
“Men, especially younger men, are becoming more fashion conscious,” Jenkins said. “I believes that is partly attributed to more advertising geared towards men. I think it is something that the industry welcomes. But overall women are still the major shoppers.”
Although the day after Thanksgiving has traditionally been the biggest shopping day of the year, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers, the Saturday before Christmas is actually a bigger shopping day.
“I think what we are seeing is people come out and price shop on Black Friday instead of just buying,” Jenkins said. “They compare prices and come back later to buy.
Copyright Mississippi Business Journal Dec 07, 1998
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