Thursday is new Black Friday

Retailers open earlier, expand their offerings

Lynn Howlan, one of the owners of Urban Market, right, and Vanessa Johnson store inventory in anticipation of after-Thanksgiving sales. Many downtown shops are promoting Small Business Saturday, a national effort designed to get shoppers to patronize small, local businesses. Enlargephoto

SHAUN STANLEY/Durango Herald

Lynn Howlan, one of the owners of Urban Market, right, and Vanessa Johnson store inventory in anticipation of after-Thanksgiving sales. Many downtown shops are promoting Small Business Saturday, a national effort designed to get shoppers to patronize small, local businesses.

National retailers are looking to go bigger, and earlier, for this week’s annual Black Friday shopping spree and Durango’s stores are no exception.

Durango’s Walmart store will start rolling out Black Friday deals at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving Day, two hours earlier than last year.

Retailers are responding to customer-traffic trends showing that people’s thoughts quickly turn to shopping when the turkey dinner is over, said Ravi Jariwala, a spokesman with Walmart.

“Thursday night shopping has surged over the past three years. A lot of planning for store trips happens right after the meal has finished,” Jariwala said. Black Friday weekend customer traffic peaked at 10 p.m. Thursday night last year, so moving up the Black Friday deals made sense to give customers “more choice and more access,” Jariwala said.

Walmart is part of a wave of national retailers that are pushing Black Friday’s start date even earlier with online deals that start hours before the in-store specials.

Sports Authority, which opened a Durango store in October, offered a pre-sale earlier in November where customers could purchase items at Black Friday prices then pick them up at the store on Friday.

Walmart also is blazing ahead in the mobile realm with an in-store mode for its smartphone application that it hopes will enhance the customers’ shopping experience at its brick-and-mortar stores. The app includes a map of the store and the ability to instantly place online orders for items that aren’t in stock.

More than half of all Walmart customers have a smartphone, and the company expects mobile devices to drive about 40 percent of the store’s online holiday traffic, Jariwala said.

Meanwhile, the Black Friday deals won’t start at stores in the Durango Mall until 6 a.m. Friday when the mall opens.

Mall manager Jessica Dombrowski-Yizar said she expects more shoppers than last year, thanks in part to two new additions: T.J. Maxx and Sports Authority. T.J. Maxx opened in March and Sports Authority opened in October.

The deals Sports Authority plans to offer should bring a “big crowd” to the mall this year, she said. T.J. Maxx devotees, dubbed “maxxinistas,” are a dependable customer base as well, she said.

Santa Claus will again visit the mall this year, rolling up on a fire truck at 10 a.m. Friday. A professional photographer will be on hand to snap photos of children’s visits with Santa.

On a national scale, statistics from the National Retail Federation predict holiday sales this year will increase 4.1 percent to $586 billion. Meanwhile Main Avenue businesses are mixed in their Black Friday plans. Some were planning storewide sales while others aren’t planning anything.

“I haven’t even thought about it,” said Juan Ramirez, store manager at Inferno Board Shop. “We’re planning Noel Night more than Black Friday.”

Inferno’s operators, like most other downtown store operators, said they are holding off on their steepest sales and discounts for Noel Night, the local holiday shopping celebration on Nov. 30.

Inferno will offer a base discount on all merchandise with a raffle for larger discounts while Dancing Willow Herbs will be offering 10 and 15 percent discounts on select merchandise.

Customers who come into the Spaaah Shop & Day Spa will be able to choose coupons for discounts of 10 to 50 percent, a deal other stores said they will offer as well. The shop’s business increases by about 50 percent on Noel Night, said Jennifer LaCroix, store manager.

The Spaaah Shop also will be promoting Small Business Saturday, a national promotion supporting smaller retailers that don’t get as much attention on Black Friday. American Express, a founding partner of the event, estimated that more than 100 million people participated in 2011.

Peter Schertz, co-owner of Maria’s Bookshop, said the store will promote 25 favorite titles in a “Buy Indie” event that runs through Black Friday. Those books will be 15 percent off, Schertz said. The bookshop has made sure to stock up on Be Local coupon books for the holidays, he said.

And if shoppers haven’t had enough after Black Friday weekend, there’s always Cyber Monday.

Last year, the Monday after Thanksgiving was the biggest online shopping day in history. Shoppers spent $1.25 billion – a 22 percent increase from 2010.

Software maker Adobe Systems is predicting those sales will jump to $2 billion this year.

ecowan@durangoherald.com

Getting ready for Santa Claus and shoppers, Mike Matava, operations manager at the Durango Mall, sprinkles ornamental snowflakes around at the mall’s Center Court. Enlargephoto

JERRY McBRIDE/Durango Herald

Getting ready for Santa Claus and shoppers, Mike Matava, operations manager at the Durango Mall, sprinkles ornamental snowflakes around at the mall’s Center Court.