Area merchants report Black Friday crowds outnumbered last year, including locally owned shops that shunned the national trend to blend Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday into one long holiday shopping weekend.
Nationally, 141 million shoppers shopped Thursday through Saturday, compared to 139 million during the same time period in 2012, according to a survey of retail consumers commissioned by the National Retail Federation, a Washington, D.C.-based trade association of retail store owners. The additional shoppers this year represents a 1.4 percent increase.
More shoppers nationally hit stores for bargains on Thanksgiving Day alone this year with 45 million people shopping on the holiday compared to 35 million shoppers in 2012 (a 27 percent increase).
In Tooele County, Walmart, Sears and Walgreens were some of the stores that were open on Thanksgiving day.
Walgreens was open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving and Black Friday.
“We were pretty busy on Thanksgiving and Black Friday,” said Jerry Scott, manager of the Tooele Walgreens store. “Sales were up over last year and we are happy with how things went.”
Real Deals Home Decor was crowded on Black Friday, according to Jennifer Hebdon, one of the owners of the store.
“We were packed with shoppers,” she said. “With over 150 people it was bigger than last year.”
Real Deals opened on Black Friday at 8 a.m., two hours earlier than normal store hours.
“We thought we would open up earlier to catch the people that were returning from hunting down the bargains at the early openings in Salt Lake City,” said Hebdon.
Real Deals, which is open Thursdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., was closed Thanksgiving Day.
On the north end of town, Liddiard Home Furnishing opened its doors one hour earlier on Black Friday, starting sales at 9 a.m.
“It was a very successful day,” said owner Frank Liddiard. “Sales and foot traffic were up over last year.”
Liddiard said he has no plans to open his store on Thanksgiving, despite the national trend in that direction.
“I’m a firm believer that Thanksgiving is for family,” he said. “Our employees should be home with their families on Thanksgiving. The day I have to open on Thanksgiving is the day I close down the store and find something else to do for a living.”
While national retail sales for Black Friday weekend increased, the numbers for Black Friday alone decreased. Retail sales on Black Friday for 2013 fell by 11.4 percent over Black Friday of 2012, according to ShopperTrak, a Chicago-based company that collects and analyzes sales data for retail stores and shopping malls.
“The Black Friday shopping experience is changing with more shoppers choosing to go out on Thanksgiving Day,” said Bill Martin, ShopperTrak founder, in a press release. “Consumers increasingly research products online before entering stores. When they arrive, customers know exactly what they want to buy — retailers now need to make their experience a satisfying one.”
Local retailers have faith that the upswing in Black Friday shopping bodes well for the holiday shopping season and perhaps the 2014 year.
“I think things are starting to get better,” said Liddiard. “We were doing great earlier this year, with monthly sales typically above last year until the government shutdown came along. With that out of the way now, things are starting to recover and look better.”