Stores open early for Black Friday
Christmas shopping for five children requires careful planning and the help of Black Friday deals, according to Fairfield residents Dave and Bonnie Morris.
The Morrises, like an increasing number of Americans, began their Black Friday shopping on Thursday as more stores remained open to maximize sales from the biggest shopping event of the year.
The couple couldn’t find a parking space at 10 p.m. last night when they visited Walmart, which has been open Thanksgiving Day since 1988. Headquarters reported last night’s sales as the highest in Walmart history, processing nearly 10 million register transactions and almost 5,000 items per second from 8 p.m. to midnight.
In Fairfield, Orscheln Farm & Home store and Fairfield Sears Hometown Store welcomed customers Thursday for the first time in either company’s history.
The Morrises didn’t visit Fairfield Sears Hometown Store until Friday morning where they bought a Craftsman mechanic tool at a discount.
“I got this for my youngest son Jordan,” said Dave Morris. “We let him look through fliers and tell us what he wanted.”
For local Sears staff, Thanksgiving was a sleepless night, with store hours from 8 p.m. to midnight Thursday and 4 a.m. to 6 p.m. today.
Storeowner Gavin Hammes said his staff worked frantically most of the night, going home for a few hours only to return at 3 a.m. to prepare for the morning shift. During a slower period this morning, one of Hammes’ employees took a catnap in the staff room until business picked up again.
“When we opened last night, the parking lot was packed with 50-70 cars,” he said. “It was a little overwhelming.”
It was so busy, Hammes said, he called in extra help for the 4 a.m. shift, but by then, business slowed.
“More people came in last night,” he said. “The traffic was slower this morning.”
Hammes said sales so far are similar to what he saw at last year’s Black Friday event. He believed Thursday’s crowd would have made the trip early Friday if they weren’t offered the more convenient Thursday hours.
Hammes admitted while more convenient for shoppers, he and his staff weren’t pleased about the extended hours, especially since he didn’t believe it affected sales. However, he said, everyone kept a good attitude.
“Everybody was called in, we’re a small store, we don’t have a ton of employees,” he said. “Everybody knows they have to come in and do it.”
Orscheln Farm & Home store was open all day Thursday, but assistant general manager Julie Wesely said the store didn’t experience the shopping rush it expected.
“It was a little slow, not like we thought it would be,” she said.
She said the store has been busier today with a constant flow of customers since the store opened at 6 a.m. While she said Orscheln’s staff didn’t fight the Missouri-based company’s decision to open on Thanksgiving, they were far from excited about the change.
“I think people thought, ‘There goes another holiday,’” she said.
Some local merchandisers experienced high sales even without altering store hours. Fairfield’s Brown’s Shoe Fit Company had a 25 percent off special this morning, which drew in record-breaking crowds.
“It’s been busier than we’ve even seen before,” said store manager Ryan Robinson.
Local home and gift stores, Adela’s and the At Home Store didn’t advertise Black Friday specials, but said they’re noticing higher traffic nevertheless.
“As retailers the fourth quarter is always the best because people are shopping,” said storeowner of Adela’s, Dorian Atwood. “We are no different, Christmas shopping is important to us.”
Atwood said she had a rush this morning as people came in to see the unveiling of the newest Pandora jewelry Black Friday charm. She said it was shaped like a present with enamel ribbon.
“We’re lucky to carry Pandora, it’s a big deal for us,” she said.
Rosie Witherspoon, who owns the At Home Store, said her store will take part in Small Business Saturday this Saturday, an American Express event meant to support local storeowners during the holiday season. Witherspoon said American Express card owners can enroll online and receive a $25 credit on any purchase of more than $25. According to the credit card company, last year more than one hundred million people shopped at small businesses during the event.
Beginning this week, Witherspoon said she’ll be receiving new shipments of holiday items every day leading up to Christmas.
“The store changes on a day-to-day basis,” she said. “It’s an exciting time for us and hopefully for our customers.”