Justine Griffin/Sarasota Herald-Tribune—The shopping days that precede the holidays are taking on their own personality.
We’ve got Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Small Business Saturday. There’s Free Shipping Day, which fell on Wednesday, a week before Christmas, this year. And now we’ve got Gray Thursday, a title for those murky hours on Thanksgiving evening into which doorbuster deals have crept.
Then there’s Super Saturday, the last Saturday before Christmas, when stores whip out a final round of deals in a last minute push to purge their inventories.
Stores are staying open longer, too. Southwest Florida malls extended their hours, some opening as early as 8 a.m. and going some nights to 11 p.m., to get more people in to shop.
Toys R Us stores will be open for 87 consecutive hours this year. From Saturday to the end of Christmas Eve, its stores across the country aren’t closing.
Electronics chain Best Buy stayed open from late Friday through Monday over the last shopping weekend before Christmas. Its stores were open from 7 a.m. to midnight.
Even though chain stores opened earlier than ever on Thanksgiving Day this year, retailers saw a decline in consumer spending for the first time in four years, according to retail analyst Jeff Green. Early reports show that fewer people shopped over the last weekend before Christmas, too.
Green predicted that holiday sales will be relatively flat compared to last year as a result.
But the online sector continues to be strong around the holidays. More people are shopping online than ever before, retail reports show.
But what happens on Thursday, the day after Christmas, when shoppers head back to malls to make returns and just don’t want to shop anymore?
In Sarasota, at least, that might not be true.
The holidays are just the beginning of the busy season for retailers in Sarasota, said Sarasota Square Mall JC Penney store manager Bob Parker.
“Unlike the rest of the country, we’re busy in the winter because of the tourist season,” he said.
Babies R Us stores to close
The Babies R Us store on Central Sarasota Parkway in Sarasota will close its doors for good by the end of January, employees say. The Toys R Us store at 1381 Tamiami Trail in Port Charlotte also will close after Christmas. Liquidation sales will begin the day after Christmas.
Toys R Us opened two pop-up stores in the region this year inside Westfield’s Southgate Mall and Sarasota Square Mall.
Both stores will close in mid-January.