The Hustle and Bustle Begins

This year retailers are taking unprecedented measures to fight for their share of dollars as shoppers rush home with their treasures.

Often regarded as the kickoff to holiday shopping, Black Friday will be more like “Black Thursday,” as stores like Wal-Mart and Toys ‘R Us are opening their doors as soon as 8pm on Thanksgiving.

“Partially I think it’s due to economic pressure,” said Brandon Sheridan, Associate Professor of Economics at North Central College. “Companies have struggled in the past few years, relative to their previous track. So part of that is opening earlier and increasing the amount of time that you have to sell stuff.”

Toys ‘R Us has managed to weather the economic storm since the recession began.

“What we’ve seen in the past is that the last place parents cut back on is that holiday present for their kids and we’ve seen our December numbers over the past five years stay very strong,” said Jennifer Albano, Director of Corporate Communications for Toys ‘R Us.

Still, the toy store giant is trying to gain a competitive advantage by offering layaway with no upfront fees for the first time ever.

Meanwhile Wal-Mart’s tactic is having enough select merchandise to meet Black Friday’s very high demand.

“We’ll have three products guaranteed in stock that day. We’ll have an iPad, $38 blue-ray player, and 32-inch television,” said Greg Szarzynski, Store Manager for the Naperville Wal-Mart.

With these strategies in place, the National Retail Federation estimates that consumers nationwide will spend a total of $586-billion for the holidays. That’s a 4.1% increase over last year. Economists say that’s rather modest and cautions not to be overly optimistic.

“I think it kind of captures the overall mindset of the average American – that they maybe want to spend more but they’re still maybe digging out of debt or working on their finances from recovering from the recent recession. So there’s still slight optimism but still very hesitant to go full throttle like back before the recession,” said Sheridan.

The National Retail Federation estimates that more than more than 152-million consumers will be hitting retailers and malls nationwide for Black Friday. Economists suggest pre-shopping before you even leave home by looking through catalogues and store websites for the best deals.

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