Merchants ready for final day

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 24, 2010

Chris Ferrell and Kim Perdue make a few last minute purchases at Factory Connection Thursday.

If the parking lots of Andalusia are any indication, there is a host of people trying to work in their last minute shopping, and local retailers are reaping the benefits.

According to a survey released Tuesday by the International Council of Shopping Centers, 23.1 million consumers, or 15 percent, plan to shop today.

And stores throughout the county have extended their hours on the biggest shopping day of the year.

JCPenney store manager Dennis Cockrell said his store will open at 7 a.m. and close at 6 p.m. to accommodate the rush.

“(Today) is usually a really busy day for us, from the time we open to the time we close,” Cockrell said. “It’s a constant stream of customers every hour of people looking for those last minute gifts.”

Cockrell said additional staff will be on hand for the day where customers can find deals on fine jewelry, clothes and house wares.

At Factory Connection, Burkes and Hibbetts Thursday, there was hardly a parking space to be found in the shopping plaza.

It was more of the same at Wal-Mart, where store manager Christy Burns said additional cashiers would be on hand to handle the shopping rush.

Wal-Mart will close tonight at 8 p.m. and reopen Sun., Dec. 26, at 6 a.m.

“We did have to hire additional help, which is typical of this time of year to handle the influx of customers and to make sure the registers are staffed,” Burns said. “For us this year, electronics are and continue to be the hot item, and toys of course, too. And bikes. I can’t tell you the number of bicycles we’ve assembled. I’ve lost count, but there is still a good selection that can be found in the toy department and the garden center.”