Retailers compete with Thanksgiving dinner for sales

November 26, 2009 7:54:39 PM PST
Black Friday has traditionally marked the kickoff of the holiday shopping season, but this year -- in response to the struggling economy -- some stores are competing with Thanksgiving dinner.

ABC7 asked shopper Samantha Dial when she arrived to stand in line for Black Friday deals and she replied, "5 p.m. on Wednesday."

That makes 24 hours and counting for Dial. She was the first person in line at a Best Buy store in Pleasant Hill, where the doors won't open for 12 more hours.

"Me and my friend, we're going to buy a couple of TVs, a PS3, um...probably going to buy some laptops," said Dial.

Shoppers there told ABC7 this impromptu camping trip actually represents their attempt to buy more, with less this year.

"All these savings, a couple hundred dollars, really helps out, especially with the economy being so rough as it is," said Terence DeSouza.

At the Old Navy store in Concord, the line was inside, wrapped around several departments as shoppers gobbled up the rare chance to shop on turkey day.

"We saw in the paper that they were open at noon and? here we are," said shopper Debbie Roper.

"We just needed something to wear and we're definitely not going to go out tomorrow," said shopper Megan Roper.

Old Navy opened a few stores last Thanksgiving, but expanded it to 800 this year.

"We're really excited to get a jump start on the holiday season. We wanted to make it easy on our customers this year so we decided to open for the holiday. We have amazing values so we wanted to make sure she could come down first to get great deals," said Jaime Zemke from Old Navy.

This holiday period is critical for retailers trying to bounce back from a poor showing last year.

Strong retail sales this season could be a good indicator that the larger economy is beginning to recover.

It is also make or break time for smaller retailers. Thanks to strong sales last Thanksgiving, the owners of Plaza Florist in Walnut Creek opened again this year, but with a concession for the recession.

"We started a $35 per piece centerpiece. Last year, we started at $50 and we're downgrading to $35," said Elaine Crisostomo from Plaza Florist.

The Best Buy line is steadily growing in Pleasant Hill. In 2008 retail sales dropped 3.4 percent. This year retailers will consider it a good shopping season if sales dropped only 1 percent of if they fell flat.


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