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Merchants getting ready
Black Friday looms large
James Hoops looks at TVs on display Tuesday at Wal-Mart. The retailer is among many opening early for Black Friday. - photo by Autumn McBride


Millions of people will burn off those Thanksgiving calories with some holiday shopping this Friday.

Stores are gearing up for the so-called “Black Friday” crush as 138 million shoppers, an increase of about 4 million from 2009, are expected to hit stores nationwide, according to the National Retail Federation.

According to federation president Matthew Shay, retailers are doing everything they can to get customers in the door the day after Thanksgiving.

“Many retailers are getting shoppers excited about ‘Black Friday’ by offering sneak peeks of deals in advance,” he said.

The term “Black Friday” reflects the impact the shopping weekend has on merchants. In addition to being the springboard for the holiday shopping season, the weekend also helps businesses go from red, or unprofitable, to black, or profit.

Another staple of Black Friday is the early morning sales, and Forsyth County is no exception.

Cumming Super Target will open at 4 a.m., an hour earlier than last year, to give shoppers more time to find the perfect holiday gifts.

Kohl’s will be opening even earlier, at 3 a.m. with more than 400 early bird specials, said store manager Larry Wilkerson.

“I usually get here at 1 a.m. and there will be people here waiting when I come in,” he said. “We do expect it to be a little busier than last year, because people are a little more comfortable with the economy then they were.”

At Wal-Mart, spokesman Mike Caspar said the staff is “certainly very prepared for the day.”

“I think this year is going to be a really festive atmosphere in the stores ... there will be sampling events throughout the store,” he said.

Treats aside, the potential savings will include deep discounts on products storewide, specifically in the electronics section.

Caspar said televisions, Blu-ray DVD players, laptop computers and personal electronic items will all be priced aggressively.

There will also be discounts on toys, video games, movies, bicycles and apparel. Plus, this year, Wal-Mart’s trying a new strategy.

“We will be matching all competitors’ Friday ads, which is a pretty big deal,” he said. “If customers come to Wal-Mart, as long as they bring the competitor’s ad, they don’t have to run from store to store getting it all.

“It doesn’t matter what deals are out there, we’re going to match them all.”

Steve Reid, manager of the Cumming Super Target, said savings will be a two-day event.

“We do provide our guests with maps ... for where some of the items are located,” he said. “It helps them kind of plan their shopping out that morning.”

The day will become somewhat of a festival for retailers at The Avenue Forsyth, where there will be photos with Santa Claus and carriage rides, storytelling for kids and free gifts.

“Our shoppers get really excited about that,” said Amelia Turney, spokeswoman for the outdoor mall off Peachtree Parkway.
“We try to do a lot to support the retailers and their ‘Black Friday’ efforts and we’re really excited about it.”

All stores in The Avenue Forsyth will be open by 9 a.m., but several are opening early. MovieStop and Rack Room Shoes will open at 4 a.m., Lane Bryant and Game Stop will open at 5 a.m. and Jos. A. Bank and Justice will open at 6 a.m.

Aeropostale, American Eagle and Bath & Body Works, among others, will open at 7 a.m.

“It’s just kicking off the holidays and the holiday shopping season, so it’s a really exciting feeling,” Turney said. “Friday the focus is really on the shopping and starting Saturday, it really kind of kicks off the whole holiday season.”