The day for deals

By Sharna Johnson: Freedom New Mexico

Many stores opened as early as 4 a.m., offering “Black Friday” discounts on a variety of merchandise.

Weather officials said temperatures were in the 20s early Friday, with wind-chill factors in the mid-teens. Officially, Clovis received .01 inch of snow.

Brushing off snowflakes and wincing from the biting wind, Edward and Nancy Hutchison piled purchases into their vehicle outside Wal-Mart in Clovis.

The couple said they came from their home south of Muleshoe to shop with their daughter. “Yeah (I got some deals), but I don’t think I’d want to fight this again,” Nancy Hutchison said of the crowds in the store.

At North Plains Mall in Clovis, shoppers swarmed through Sears waiting patiently in long lines to pay for their purchases.

“It just doesn’t seem like this year has the good sales,” Iris Mott said as she waited for her turn at the register around 5:30 a.m.

Mott said she got up at 3 a.m. and headed to the mall but didn’t feel she got any deals she couldn’t have gotten later in the day and with fewer crowds.

“If the weather would have been better, I would have driven to Lubbock,” she said.

Steve Roderick and his son-in-law Adam Reed, from Springfield, Mo., waited patiently for their wives outside Bath & Body Works around 6 a.m.

“It hasn’t been too bad,” Roderick said, explaining they are visiting his son who is stationed at Cannon Air Force Base.

Cheerfully he said he hadn’t found anything he couldn’t live without.

Obed S. Favela, 10-months-old, sat quietly in a car-shaped stroller at Journeys in Clovis while his father Saul Favela looked at shoes. Favela said he had already taken a couple of loads of purchases to his vehicle.

He said since his son is usually up by 4 a.m. anyway, it wasn’t a big deal to head to the stores. “There are good sales,” he said.
David Bryant, manager of Triangle Home Center in Clovis, said customers were lined up outside the door before they opened at 7 a.m.
It was a high-performing day for the store, he said. Within the first few minutes, they sold out of digital photo frames priced at $49.99.
Cressie Stroud said business was sporadic but good at her gift shop in Portales.

“It was off and on all day but not overwhelming,” the owner of Nowhereelse said. “It’s been a good day.”

The local shopping experience was mirrored around the country as people rushed to get good deals and a jump on their holiday purchasing.

While Black Friday is expected by some analysts to be the busiest day of the season, it’s not a predictor of how retailers will fare in the season overall. In fact, the weekend only accounts for about 10 percent of overall holiday sales. But it does set the tone since what consumers see that day influences where they will shop for the rest of the year.

C. Britt Beemer, chairman of America’s Research Group, noted that if shoppers walk into a store on Black Friday and like what they see, they will more likely go back during the Christmas season.

“This is their biggest chance to win at retail during Christmas season,” Beemer said.

Last year, retailers had a good start during the Thanksgiving weekend, but many stores struggled in December and a shopping surge just before and after Christmas wasn’t enough to make up for lost sales.

This year, analysts expect sales gains to be the weakest in five years. Washington-based National Retail Federation predicted that total holiday sales will be up 4 percent for the combined November and December period, the slowest growth since a 1.3 percent rise in 2002.

Holiday sales rose 4.6 percent in 2006 and growth has averaged 4.8 percent over the last decade.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.