Sales good in spite of tough times

Published 6:00 am Monday, November 30, 2009

By 8 a.m., the Friday morning rush was over. Only three digitalcameras remained and the GPS systems were long gone.

Kevin Harvey’s Black Friday fears were unfounded.

“You have nightmares about people not showing up,” said Harvey,the manager of Brookhaven’s Radio Shack/Harvey Electronics. “We hada big rush, probably bigger than last year as far the first crowdthrough.”

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Any concerns Harvey had about the economy’s impact on thebiggest shopping day of the year were wiped away when he arrived atthe store Friday morning to find customers lined up at the lockeddoors. With TomTom and Garmin GPS systems marked down to $99 from$199, and digital camera prices felled from $219 to $119, it wasBlack Friday business as usual.

“It helps shape your Christmas year, and it can shape your wholeyear,” Harvey said. “Business is holding steady. It’s very close tolast year, if not better than last year.”

Harvey said Black Friday sales would end with the day, but RadioShack would have other specials up until Christmas. Some big-ticketitems not listed in the Black Friday sales paper will go on saleSaturday, he said.

Unusually, much of the shopping had already been done, Harveysaid.

“We’ve actually had more business before Friday than we’ve hadin the past,” he said. “I think people are just making sure theyget ‘it’ this year. They’re willing to pay a little more ratherthan have to fight for it.”

The situation was the same at Walgreens, where store managerSteven Szelmeczki saw intense shopping on Thanksgiving Day, beforeBlack Friday sales were on.

“Hopefully, it’s an indication people are showing a little moreoptimism, trying to shop early and get the deals,” he said. “Thusfar, this store has been hitting last year’s numbers, but as adistrict we’re down.”

Shopping was up at Sears, but the numbers were down. Store ownerSid Sasser said his store did $15,000 in sales before 7 a.m., butthat number was only a quarter of last year’s $60,000 number.

But Sasser can’t sell what he doesn’t have.

“Some appliances were limited quantity this year,” he said.”Last year we sold 24 washer/dryer combos, and this year they onlyallowed us to sell four.”

Sasser said all four washer/dryer combos sold the minute Searsopened Friday, but now that item is gone. Last year, he sold all 24units and took orders for more, with some shoppers returning inJanuary to collect them. This year, he said no more orders would betaken.

“The limited supply is affecting sales,” Sasser said.

The supply story was the same at Perkins Ace Hardware.

“We’ve sold out of a few items, but we were limited on somethings we could get,” said manager Ken Dunn. “People aren’t buyingas much as they used to, but they’re shopping.”

Despite some limitations from warehouses, there were plenty ofitems in supply and on sale Friday.

Home Depot manager Deon Moore said her biggest Black Friday hitwas the 16-gallon shop vac, which sold for $19.77 – $99 below thestandard price.

Sasser’s electronics section was in high demand Friday, withhigh definition TVs selling “above expectations.” For $379,shoppers could purchase a 32-inch Samsung.

At Perkins Ace Hardware, tools were selling out. Dunn said sometools were free with rebates, and they didn’t last beyond 7:30a.m.

Some items are too good to pass up, regardless of the price.Hibbett Sports manager Sarah Larue said her early morning shopperswere buying up Nike’s Air Force 1 and Jordan shoes, though neitherwas on sale.

“Everybody wants those shoes,” she said.