Merchants hope for high sales

Published 7:13 pm Thursday, November 27, 2008

Despite the tough economic times, local retailers are saying they think Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year, is going to do exactly as its name implies – bring lagging sales revenue into the black.

They also don’t think that the drop in gas prices will have an affect on local sales.

Stores all over Covington County are offering sales anywhere from 50 to 75 percent off merchandise in the hopes of drawing in the crowds this holiday shopping season.

At J.C. Penney, one of the largest chain stores in the county, store manager Dennis Cockrell said he felt that the tradition behind the day would bring people into the stores.

“We had a big crowd last year and a bunch standing at the door to get in when we opened at 4 a.m.,” Cockrell said. “ I think most people will still stay at home.

“You’ll always have some who like to take a shopping trip, and unless they have something on their list we don’t have here, I think people will stay home despite the drop in gas prices.

“Even with the economy in the shape it is, people are still going to buy Christmas,” he said. “It’s tradition to go shopping on the day after Thanksgiving. I think it’s going to be slow but it will still be a big day for us.”

Cockrell said he believes that overall sales for the holiday season will be comparable to last year’s.

“I think what will happen is that people may not shop until much later in the holiday season,” he said. “But people will definitely come out Friday. It’s just tradition.”

In the Westgate Shopping Center, both managers at Factory Connection and Goody’s Family Clothing store agreed with Cockrell.

“I anticipate a crowd and a line,” said Tori Shirey at Factory Connection. “So much that I hired extra help for the holiday season. And I think a lot of people will stick close to home for the simple fact they don’t want to fight the crowds.”

To entice shoppers into the store, Shirey said everything, including clearance items, is 20 percent off.

“We want to make those sales,” she said. “A lot of our stuff is already marked 50 percent off, plus another 20 percent on Friday. That’s some tremendous savings, which is what people are looking for.”

At Goody’s, manager Maggie Givens said she believe shoppers will “scale back” their holiday shopping.

“Usually you’ve got people out shopping for big items like TVs and refrigerators,” she said. “This year, I think people are out to buy a lot more of the smaller gift type items – of which Goody’s has a lot more of this year. They just don’t have the money and they’re looking to buy for everyone in their family, so they definitely have to scale back their shopping.”

And in order to accommodate those expectations, Givens said the store is featuring the largest selection of gift-type items ever.

“Generally, we’re known as a clothing store, but this year, we’ve got things like camcorders, digital picture frames and toys – all on sale too,” she said. “And I think people will buy a lot more of the smaller type items like those than ever before.”