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LUMBERTON – Local stores were preparing for the rush that accompanies Black Friday sales every year on Wednesday.
Biggs Park Mall Manager Chelsea Biggs said the mall will be closed for Thanksgiving and reopen on Friday. Bath & Body Works will reopen at 6 a.m., but some other retailers will open around 7 a.m. The mall will close at 10 p.m.
âLumber River Quartet will be there to sing along Black Friday and Saturday to entertain people while they shop,â Biggs said.
She also said Santa Claus will make a special appearance on Friday and Saturday for photo ops. People who have received their COVID-19 vaccines can sit next to or on Santa’s lap this year. In 2020, coronavirus restrictions prevented children from being so close to Santa Claus.
âSo we’re kind of getting back to normal,â Biggs said.
Father Christmas will be at the shopping center Friday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Biggs said the mall saw a “big drop” in shoppers on Black Friday last year, but sales haven’t seen such a drop.
âPeople who did their shopping spent more,â Biggs said.
Meloria Malcolm, director of Bath & Body Works, said the store had a three buy, three sale on store items.
âIt was a slow start to Christmas shopping,â said Malcolm.
However, just after 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, the store was slammed by shoppers, she said.
“We have people everywhere,” Tomlinson store manager Donna Davis said on Wednesday.
Davis planned to develop a plan of action on Thursday before the holiday weekend.
The store will be holding giveaways throughout the day on Friday. Opening hours Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
âI’m going to have a bunch of specials throughout the day,â she said.
Item sales include candles, women’s Christmas shirts, men’s coats and more. Several Simply Southern items were in stock Wednesday before the holiday weekend. The store will not be wrapping gifts this year.
âI think it will be a wonderful day for us,â she said of Friday.
âWe look forward to having a good year this year and thank our customers for buying locally and allowing us to help them,â said Davis.
Belk store manager Lonnie McIver said store traffic on Wednesday exceeded his expectations.
âThis store is buzzing with customers,â he said Wednesday afternoon. “You can’t even compare last year to this year.”
McIver said contributing factors such as supply shortages and more secure buyers are adding to the increase in the number of buyers.
âI think everyone is in the Christmas buzz and ready to go shopping,â he said.
Black Friday sales, which began on November 19, continued on Wednesday before the bank holiday weekend.
The store hired an additional 30 people for the holiday sales and workers continued to stock shelves with merchandise on Wednesday, he said.
âWe are increasing our inventory levels,â McIver said.
The store will open at 7 a.m. on Friday and distribute gift cards to the first 100 customers online.
“She’s still an unknown,” he said of Friday. “I expect it to be very, very busy.”
Workers at Thee She Shed, located on Roberts Avenue, were anticipating sales on Friday.
âWe just got some stuff this morning,â store manager Vickie Pittman said.
The store receives new items every day, Pittman said.
âWe are very excited,â she said.
The store will close for Thanksgiving and will operate Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Items throughout the store will be sold at a 20% discount during the Black Friday shopping event. The store sells items like clothing, jewelry, home decor, and custom monograms and embroidery.
The store performed well in its first Black Friday event in 2020 and workers are anticipating success this weekend, she said.
An annual survey by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics estimates that nearly 2 million more people are expected to participate in Black Friday and Cyber ââMonday sales compared to last year. There were 7,837 survey respondents.
âWe expect another record breaking holiday season this year and Thanksgiving weekend will play a major role as it always has,â said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay.
âStill, consumers are starting earlier than ever to make sure they get what they want, when they want it, at the price they want to pay. Black Friday stopped being a one-day event years ago, and this year some consumers started shopping for Christmas as early as Halloween. NRF encourages consumers to shop safely and buy early, but retailers are confident they have enough inventory to meet holiday demand, âadded Shay.
According to the survey, an estimated 30.6 million people will shop on Thursday and 108 million shoppers plan to flood stores on Friday. The survey predicts a total of 158.3 million buyers this year, 1.7 million more than last year but still below “165.3 million in pre-pandemic 2019”, according to a statement from NRF press.
âOf those who shop on Thanksgiving Day, 65% are likely to do so in stores, up from 50% last year, when concerns about COVID-19 still held many people home. On Black Friday, 64% are likely to shop in stores, up from 51% last year, âaccording to the NRF.
“For those who shop on weekends, ‘too good to ignore’ deals remain the main reason, cited by 58%, but tradition continued to come in second at 28%.”
The survey also found that 46% of people shopped earlier than in previous years, with a total of 61% of respondents saying they have already started shopping for the holidays.
The NRF forecast last month that holiday sales in November and December would increase between 8.5% and 10.5% from 2020 to reach between $ 843.4 billion and $ 859 billion, setting records for growth rate and total amount spent. Consumers are expected to spend an average of $ 997.73, âaccording to the NRF.