Tis the season to shop, shop, shop

Published 12:04 am Thursday, November 22, 2012

Start stretching those shopping muscles now because officials are predicting a robust retail season this year.

There are 32 days between Black Friday and Christmas, and shoppers are expected to make the most of those shopping days. The Alabama Retail Assoc-iation reports spending in November and December is expected to surpass $9 billion in the state, a 4 percent growth over last year.

If that prediction proves true, Alabamians should spend about $350 million more this holiday season than in 2011 on taxed purchases, based on this year’s average monthly sales growth of 4.33 percent.

Nationally, holiday sales are expected to increase 4.1 percent to $586.1 billion. Last year, holiday spending in Alabama grew 4.41 percent over 2010’s figure.

In an effort to draw customers in, many major retailers are expanding their Black Friday events.

Local retailers like Wal-Mart and Goody’s have pushed back their opening times into Thanksgiving, while JC Penney is sticking with its traditional 6 a.m. opening time. In fact, Wal-Mart emailed out its Black Friday circular and will open its doors at 8 p.m. tonight for the first of three shopping blitz waves.

Smaller retailers like Ansley Place, Town and Country and Florala’s Simply Chic will open its doors early Friday, as well. (See the Gift Guide in today’s paper for details)

But while stores are doing their best to draw customers in, many area residents say they will be spending less this year.

Marsha Phillips is spending $200 less this year and will not be braving the stores on Friday.

“(Marshall, her husband) hates Black Friday so much, he said he would help me all day Friday getting the fall decorations down and the Christmas stuff up if I will just please, please not make him go to Wal-Mart early Friday morning,” she said. “We will spend around $300, which is down about $200 from last year.

“We talked about it this year, and decided we will buy gifts for our sons, grandkids and (Marshall’s) mom,” she said. “And for others, I will be making and giving divinity.”

Gerry Kimbril said she’s spending $100 on gifts for three Christmas parties.

“And that’s it,” she said.