‘Black Friday’ keeps area merchants busy

November 27
November 27, 2007
November 29
November 29, 2007
November 27
November 27, 2007
November 29
November 29, 2007

The 5 a.m. ring of cash registers sounded for a rally of transactions on Black Friday in the Tri-parish area. The extended Thanksgiving holidays provided many companies an opportunity to boost sales.

Black Friday is said to begin the traditional Christmas shopping season. However, the saving’s day is not an official holiday.

It was originally named because of the heavy store traffic on the day after Thanksgiving, when most shoppers begin purchasing Christmas gifts. But research shows that the most contemporary uses of the term refer instead to the beginning, where retailers are in the black (turning a profit).

Friday morning’s sales kicked off at 4:30 a.m., when a number of retailers opened their doors touting “door buster” deals.

According to the Houma Best Buy General Manager Aminda Reyes, it isn’t unusual to see customers camped out in the parking lots on Thursday afternoon to be the first to cash in on slashed prices. This year’s deals promised discounts on plasma televisions, laptops, computer games and MP3 players.

“This is a great experience for the customers because many people have a lot of family in town, and this day gives them an opportunity to do some early Christmas shopping as well as have a family outing,” she said.

Some Best Buy employees started their Friday morning at 2 a.m. “It was amazing to see how pumped the employees were,” Reyes said. “They were so energetic.”

Best Buy sales associate Keya Ezell greeted the customers as they came in and out of the store. She said a lot of customers were shopping for electronics like GPS systems, computers and printers.

“The customers were filling up their arms with items and going to the car and coming back for more,” she said.

Ezell said some customers made two and three trips inside of the store before 10 a.m.

At Southland Mall, Kaybee Toys only allowed 10 to 15 people in the store at a time. Sears had sold out of home furnishing items by 9:30 a.m. Friday.

“We’ve been here since 4:30 a.m. Customers started coming in at 5 a.m. and they went straight for the electronics like the camcorders, home fashion, small appliances and bedding,” said one Sears’ sales associate.

Wal-Mart moved its traditional observance of Black Friday up one day early, offering special deals online at www.walmart.com. Company spokesperson Jami Arms said this was to target the stay-at-home and early-bird shoppers.

“They came, they bought, they conquered and tomorrow we start all over,” Arms said Friday morning. “Shoppers came out for prices, the deals and/or the excitement and we delivered it all as fast as every register could ring. There will be no slowing down since we have additional great deals all weekend.”

The secret in-store specials began Friday morning at 5 a.m. and continued through Saturday as supplies lasted. The hot ticket items were in electronics, which included televisions, mechanical toys, dolls and GPS systems.

“It’s time to expand Black Friday into three full days for millions who want this convenience and need these savings,” John Fleming, chief merchandising officer for Wal-Mart said in a news release.

Black Friday is generally considered one of the biggest shopping days of the year. While it has been dubbed one of the busiest in terms of customer traffic, actual sales volumes rank it anywhere from the fifth to sixth busiest day nationally. However, in 2005 the day was ranked the top sales day.

The first reference to Black Friday dates back to the day after the 1970 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in downtown New York City.

Todd Chauvin gets a hand from his sons, Kaden, 4, and Nicholas, 7, loading bags into his truck outside Wal-Mart in Houma Friday. The Bourg family members were among hundreds of Tri-parish shoppers that flocked to the stores on “Black Friday” to cash in on deals. * Photo by SOPHIA RUFFIN