Forsyth County retailers are readying for big crowds this weekend.
Known as Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving is one of the biggest shopping days of the year.
So big in fact, that it’s known as “black” in reference to retailers’ budgets going back into “the black,” or making a profit, for the year.
According to a report from the National Retail Federation, some 147 million people plan to shop over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
That’s a slight decrease from last year, when 152 million did so.
When polled by the organization this year, 71 million said they would definitely shop, while another 76 million said they would likely shop but it would depend on the items retailers offer.
Steve Reid, manager of the Super Target on Market Place Boulevard, said the Friday after Thanksgiving is always a busy day at the store.
“Black Friday traditionally marks the beginning of the holiday season,” he said. “We always see some of our larger crowds on that day.”
Kelly Freese, manager of Belk in Lakeland Plaza, agreed.
“It is our busiest day of the year,” she said. “All of our associates work 12-hour shifts that day.
“Honestly, we’ve been preparing for Black Friday for all of October and November.”
This year customers have been getting a jump start on Friday savings at Target, Reid said.
“All this week we’ve had our It’s On: Beat the Rush Sale,” he said. “It’s a pre-Black Friday sale for people who might say, ‘I don’t want to come out and fight all the crowds, so I’m going to shop now.’
“This week is big because people will be out buying food, so having a Super Target with food … guests are making that food purchase trip, but then they see other items and they’re adding to it and they may also do a little early Christmas shopping.”
The store will also extend its Friday sale hours this year, beginning at 9 p.m. Thursday and running through 11 p.m. the next day.
Belk will also have extended hours, Freese said.
“This year we’re opening at midnight [after Thanksgiving], which is a first for us,” she said.
Reid said some of the most popular items typically include electronics and toys.
“Any of the gaming systems are always big and televisions are always a memorable item for the Black Friday event,” he said. “And of course whatever the hot toy is that year, and that is decided by the guests.”
Freese said some of Belk’s top items will be reduced priced footwear, makeup and clothing items.
“There are also TV/DVD combos and tablets, so we have a lot of things to keep us competitive electronic-wise, as well as what we specialize in with our day-in and day-out fashion,” she said.
“We’ll have 330 early bird specials that run from midnight to 1 o’clock in the afternoon on Friday, and we’re giving away 325 gift cards that have a value of anywhere from $5 to $1,000.”
Reid said some customers have taken advantage of the Forsyth County school system’s Thanksgiving break.
“One mom said because school’s out this week it gives her a chance to get out and see what the kids want,” he said. “She likes the fact that school was out all week because it gave her a chance to preview shop with the kids and see what they wanted and … on Black Friday she’ll come back without the kids.”
Both store officials say they’re ready for the crowds.
“This is the time of year that if you’re in retail you look forward to the excitement of the day,” Reid said.
Added Freese: “It is a long organized process to get ready for Black Friday, but it’s all worth it to see all the customers in here and the amount of bags they leave with, and knowing that they got such a great deal.”