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Wayne Post
  • Local merchants, Eastview Mall prepare for Black Friday frenzy

  • With retail forecasters projecting an increase in sales this holiday season, locally, merchants are preparing for the season’s official kick-off, which in recent years has crept earlier and earlier into the morning of Black Friday.

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  • With retail forecasters projecting an increase in sales this holiday season, locally, merchants are preparing for the season’s official kick-off, which in recent years has crept earlier and earlier into the morning of Black Friday.
    Unique Toy Shop on South Main Street is among the merchants in downtown Canandaigua that are opening at 6 a.m. Friday. This is the third year the shop is opening early for Black Friday shoppers, and it will be featuring special deals for those getting an early start on their holiday shopping.
    “We hope it brings more people in,” said store manager Libby Hodock. “There are all these crazy sales going on.”
    According to a recently released Siena Research Institute poll, nearly four out of 10 New Yorkers think retailers should be open to shoppers on Thanksgiving night, and more and more local retailers are obliging.
    Although Eastview Mall in Victor will officially open at 6 a.m. Friday, about 60 of its stores will be opening even earlier, many at midnight. Sears and Target will be opening at 8 and 9 p.m., respectively, on Thanksgiving, while Old Navy will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving and will reopen at midnight.
    Mike Kauffman, general manager at the mall, said that last year, about 15 stores had midnight openings.
    “We found that the stores that did, did very well,” he said, adding that the mall again offered stores the option of opening at midnight this year. “A lot is based on shopper demand.”
    Kauffman predicted that mall sales this holiday season — November and December — will be up about 5 percent from last year.
    Nationwide, holiday sales are expected to increase 4.1 percent to $586.1 billion, according to the National Retail Federation’s holiday consumer spending survey conducted by BIGinsight.
    "We’ve seen this pattern of cautious optimism all year, and despite the challenges that still exist in our economy, it looks as if consumers are eager to celebrate with friends and family,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay.
    But Black Friday deals aren’t necessarily worth all the hype, said consumer and money-saving expert Andrea Woroch. Ultimately, the products offered at the deepest discounts on Black Friday are very limited in quantity, making the likelihood of nabbing one of these items slim for the majority of customers, she said.
    Booz & Co., a global management consulting firm in Chicago, goes so far as to label Black Friday "irrelevant" in its Holiday Retail Outlook 2012 report. Its survey of 1,600 consumers, retail staff and store executives indicates that shoppers are increasingly looking for gifts early in the season and purchasing them later, typically from online sources, Woroch said.
    Despite any questions about the impact online shopping might have on holiday shopping crowds, Kauffman said holiday preparations are an extensive process at the mall that includes maintenance, decorations, customer service and security. The mall works closely with the Ontario County Sheriff’s Office and hires officers for both inside and outside the mall, he said, adding, “certainly, the focus is on shopper safety.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Unique Toy Shop has also been busy preparing for the big day, said Hodock, with lots of ordering merchandise, decorating and preparing to offer free gift-wrapping to customers.
    “We’re making sure the store looks it’s best,” she said. “It’s always a good time of year. People are always in the holiday spirit.”
    She added, “We want people to shop locally. It’s very important.”
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