Black Friday extended hours, promotions bring out crowds in Huntsville
Marian Accardi / The Huntsville Times
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama — Shoppers took advantage of extended hours on Black Friday — with some stores opening as early as midnight — to snag deals on TVs, cameras, game systems and boots.
Emily and Jesse Gray of Scottsboro arrived at hhgregg on Old Monrovia Road at about 12:30 a.m. today and picked out a TV and refrigerator, but instead of waiting in a long check-out line, they got item reservation tickets, drove home, slept for two hours and came back to complete their purchase.
The Grays were rewarded for their trouble: They ended up saving about $1,600.
“She got something she wanted and I got something,” said Jesse Gray as the couple headed to check-out.
“I think a lot of people decided to stay up late (to shop) instead of getting up early,” said hhgregg manager Kevin Rich. When he arrived at the store at 10:15 Thursday night, the line of customers stretched past Haverty’s at the opposite end of Madison Plaza and around to the back of the shopping center.
Popular items included a Maytag washer/dryer pair for $699.99 and a Toshiba 32-inch high-definition TV for $199.99 with a mail-in rebate.
“The Xbox 360 with the Kinect console (at $199.99 with a mail-in rebate) went fast,” Rich said. “Camcorders and cameras were flying off the shelves all night and all morning.”
The National Retail Federation estimates that sales in November and December will increase 2.8 percent this year to $465 billion — a forecast based on an economic model using indicators like housing data, unemployment and previous monthly retail sales reports.
Retail analyst Jeff Green of Phoenix-based Jeff Green Partners has a more conservative forecast. He believes retail sales will increase by only 1 to 1.5 percent over last year. “There’s been no improvement in consumer confidence” since last year, he said. He does anticipate department store sales will be stronger than he originally expected.
Dr. David Berkowitz, a marketing professor at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, believes the sales increase for the Huntsville area will be “slightly better” than the NRF’s national projection.
“The Huntsville employment situation is still a little better than it is nationally,” he said. “There may be some uncertainty here” because of concerns about the federal budget.
At the Kohl’s store at Valley Bend at Jones Farm, the Black Friday opening was “the biggest crowd I’ve seen in my 10 years with Kohl’s,” said manager Kevin Flowers.
A line of customers waiting for the midnight opening wrapped around the store. At mid-morning, shoppers formed a line at the check-out.
“The early-bird specials were a real big hit with customers,” Flowers said. More than 500 specials were offered from midnight until 1 p.m. today.
Alyssia Bostrom, a Huntsville native who now lives in Knoxville, came to Kohl’s with her children, Connor, Julia and Bella.
“This is the first time I’ve ever shopped on Black Friday,” Bostrom said. “It’s worth it, definitely. There are some great deals on shoes for the kids.” She also stocked up on towels. “There are eight of us at home,” she explained.
Pat Stoltz of Huntsville stopped by Kohl’s after her shift at Huntsville Hospital to find some gifts for her children and grandchildren.
“I’m not a hard-core Black Friday shopper,” she said, “but it’s kind of traditional and fun.”
Retailers that opened a bit later in the morning also reported strong sales.
About 100 customers were lined up at Sports Authority at Bridge Street Town Centre when it opened at 5 a.m. The first 80 people in line received “Bonus Bucks Cards” worth $10 to $500.
Traffic at the store was still steady late Friday morning.
The popular items there, said manager Andrea Rickard, were the doorbuster specials like the Garmin GPS watch for $149.99, which sold out within 30 minutes, and the Pro-Form elliptical for $799.99.
When Holly Gilbert, the manager of Bath & Body Works at Madison Square Mall, arrived at 3:15 a.m. in advance of the store’s opening at 4 a.m., “the mall was already pretty full. We had people waiting for us to open.”
The store was still crowded at 8 a.m. “We have a lot more traffic than last year,” Gilbert said.
Shelly Aleman of Cullman, along with her daughter, Kayla, and her mother, Sherry Bailey, were shopping by 2:30 Friday morning, stopping at hhgregg before heading to Belk and JCPenney at Madison Square Mall.
Among the deals they found were boots at Belk for $19.99.
“We’re going to try to finish our shopping today,” said Bailey. “I have five grandchildren. I have a big list.”
“It’ll be nice just to get it done,” said Aleman. “One day of torture.”