Patronage varies on Black Friday

By Gabriel Monte: CNJ staff writer

Electronics Boutique Games sold out of video game consoles within five minutes of opening on Black Friday, according to Store Manager Bill O’Shea.

Located at North Plains Mall, the video game store along with other stores at the mall opened at about 6 a.m. Friday.

Some Clovis retail store officials said this year’s Black Friday sales drew about the same number of people as last year. Others reported a decrease, but couldn’t say if the snowy weather caused it.

O’Shea said the doors opened to a mass of parents waiting to buy video games for their children.

“It wasn’t just the regular customers that came in, but the moms and dads,” he said. “The big guns were coming out.”

The store had double the number of sales staff to meet the mass of customers during the early morning shopping event, according to O’Shea.

“It was the biggest sale day of the year so far,” he said.

While many stores opened early on what is considered the busiest shopping day of the year, other stores, such as Joe’s Boot Shop and Main Street Crafters Mall, stayed open until midnight.

Joe’s Boot Shop owner Joe Rhodes said more people shopped at his store this year compared to last year.

“We’ve been doing midnight sales for many, many years,” he said. Rhodes said boots and furniture were a popular item that day. “We sold a lot of furniture this year,” he said.

Main Street Crafters Mall’s Anna Powell said sales were down from last year. She said the weather and the Clovis High football playoff game might have affected the number of customers.

“There was a lot more (people) last year than this year, I know that,” she said.

Across the nation, retailers had a robust start to the holiday shopping season, according to results announced Saturday by a national research group that tracks sales at retail outlets across the country.

According to ShopperTrak RCT Corp., which tracks sales at more than 50,000 retail outlets, total sales rose 8.3 percent to about $10.3 billion on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, compared with $9.5 billion on the same day a year ago. ShopperTrak had expected an increase of no more than 4 percent to 5 percent.

While Black Friday — so named because it was traditionally when the surge of shopping made stores profitable — starts holiday shopping, it is not considered a bellwether for the season. However, merchants see Black Friday as setting an important tone to the overall season: What consumers see that day influences where they will shop for the rest of the year.

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.

—The Associated Press contributed to this report.