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Monday, 16 November 2009

Black Friday will start early for local retailers

No matter how you color it, the Friday after Thanksgiving has taken on a recession-tinted hue this year that's elevated it to be-all-and-end-all status for anxious retailers.
Pre-dawn openings, once marveled for their moxie, seem late now.

At the Legends at Sparks Marina, Black Friday will start the night before with entertainment and giveaways priming shoppers for two hours before a collective midnight opening of the 47-store complex.

Other retailers already have begun advertising "Black Friday Now!" and "Doorbusters" sales in an early grab for consumers leading up to the day the industry hopes will put them in the black -- hence the name.

For now, officials are optimistic, pointing to the tradition that has become Black Friday with shoppers waiting in lines overnight at some locales for doors to open.

"These are the diehards, they plan for this all year, to come on that day to shop," said Sally Nordgaard, director of marketing and business development at Meadowood Mall. "Will they be looking for bargains? Yes, but I think the stores have plans for that."

Whether it all works amid a 21/2-years-long slump in taxable sales in Washoe County is another matter.

"Retailers will take extraordinary promotional measures, and that may generate higher volume of sales, but does it mean the good times are here again? I doubt it," said Tom Cargill, economist at the University of Nevada, Reno.

"All it may do is shift purchases that would have been made a month later," he said. "There's a malaise, a lack of confidence, in this country that doesn't translate into a very good environment for retailers. It's getting mean and lean out there."

As the area's newest retail destination, the Legends at Sparks Marina brings with it a first -- billed "Midnight Madness" with promotional giveaways and store discounts -- as its Black Friday foothold.

"It isn't a secret that people are still tightening their purse strings and evaluating budgets," said Lisa Bates, Legends marketing consultant.

Others who have been through the Black Friday drill before are banking on successful schemes from previous holiday seasons in their bids for shoppers.

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