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December 3, 2013

Local merchants report strong Black Friday weekend sales

Ada — When Brown’s Shoe Fit opened for business on Black Friday, people were lined up outside the door.

The store is normally open from 9 a.m. until 5:30 p.m., but it opened a couple of hours early on Friday to cater to holiday shoppers. The result was a line of people and higher-than expected sales.

“People were waiting for us to open up,” owner Gunar Matheny said Monday. “It was a really good feeling to have.”

Matheny said he knew business would be brisk on Friday, which kicked off the holiday shopping season. Saturday is normally a quiet day for his store, but it turned out to be another good day.

Matheny said the Ada Area Chamber of Commerce’s promotional campaign, which prods people to visit local stores instead of heading out of town to shop, was partly responsible for strong weekend sales.

“There’s a bigger emphasis this year on getting people to shop local, shop Ada, and I think that had a big part of it,” he said. “I think it has to do with people wanting to do their part for the community.”

Across the country, more than 141 million people waited in line, took advantage of deeply discounted items or visited retailers’ websites during the four-day Thanksgiving weekend, according to the results of a survey of nearly 4,500 shoppers conducted for the National Retail Federation. More than 92 million people flocked to stores on Black Friday alone, hunting for bargains on clothing, electronics and other gifts.

Low prices and discounts, combined with the fact that many people started their  holiday shopping earlier this year, contributed to a slight drop in average spending, according to the trade group. Shoppers spent an average of $407.02 from Thursday through Sunday, down from $423.55 in 2012.

Total spending for the weekend was expected to reach $57.4 billion.

Despite the slight decline in the first weekend of the season, the NRF predicted that total holiday sales would reach the $602 billion mark — up about 3.9 percent from last year.

The Chamber’s local shopping campaign apparently convinced Adans to spend their dollars at home, as several local merchants reported strong Black Friday sales.

Foot traffic and sales volume were about the same as in 2012, but sales of big-ticket items contributed to a strong opening weekend, said James Criswell of Gem Jewelers.

“For us, for a small business, we got off to a good start for our holiday season,” he said.

Diamond Shop manager Sandra Roberts said her shop had a busy weekend as customers took advantage of extended hours and promotions of black diamond jewelry and other items. She said sales volume was about the same as Thanksgiving weekend in 2012, which was another strong sales period.

“We were happy with last year, so we’re really happy with this  year, considering the economy,” she said.

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