11:42am

Wed November 23, 2011
Business and the Economy

Retailers Banking on Solid Holiday Sales

Although Christmas merchandise encroaches deeper into the fourth quarter of the calendar, Black Friday still is considered the traditional opening to the Christmas shopping season, and local retailers have ramped up their efforts to go after consumers’ dollars. Walmart will begin its Black Friday early — on Thursday — with its Black Friday deals beginning at 10 p.m. Thanksgiving day. The store will be open all day Thursdsay.

“What Walmart (corporate office) released was that they found customers would rather stay up on Thanksgiving and go out shopping than have to wake up in the middle of the night and go out shopping,” said Tony Bryant, Georgetown’s Walmart store manager. “It was more for the customers.”

Across Cherry Blossom Way, Kohls will open at midnight on Black Friday, only hours after shoppers have finished their Thanksgiving dinners. Manager Melanie Heineken-Conley said many customers have told her they would find it easier to stay up until midnight than get up early in the morning.

Last year, Kohls opened at 4 a.m. Even in the midst of snow flurries, a line snaked around the building.

This will be the first year Kohls stores have opened at midnight on Black Friday, she said.

“This is the first year in retail I haven’t been able to 100 percent see what’s going to happen,” Heineken-Conley said, citing Walmart’s two-hour head start. “We opened at 4 last year and it was a huge win for us. Shoppers came here first and then went to Walmart.”

Kmart will open at 5 a.m. Black Friday. Assistant Manager Corynn Galliano said it’s important as a good momentum builder heading into 2012.

“It’s good for any retail store to have a good Black Friday,” she said. “It starts you off with a positive for the year.”

Managers at other area retail stores echoed Galliano, saying their stores were doing well, but that a successful Black Friday was key.

“I start thinking about Black Friday in January,” Heineken-Conley said. “I look forward to it every year.”

“That is the starting point for the Christmas holiday for retailers,” Bryant said. “It’s a huge kickoff for our season. A good understanding of how well you do on that day will tell you you well you will do in the last few months of the year.”

Usually Black Friday and Cyber Monday, traditionally the biggest online shopping day of the holiday season, are mutually exclusive, but this year online deals service LivingSocial announced Monday it was offering discounts from national businesses like Verizon Wireless and Electronic Arts Inc. and Skechers shoes, participating in the post-Thanksgiving shopping frenzy usually reserved for brick-and-mortar retail stores, The Associated Press reported.