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November 22, 2012

Black Friday sales start earlier than ever

Officials project bigger crowds for 2012 holiday season

CULLMAN — Deal-seekers, take note: Retailers have been pushing the limits of the post-Thanksgiving shopping holiday Black Friday for years, and now the festivities have officially carried over into Thanksgiving itself.

Over the past two years several major retailers have started opening on Thanksgiving night with special deals, as opposed to midnight or the wee hours of Friday morning.

Hoping to get a major jump on the rush, K-Mart will have a slate of deals that ramp up at 6 a.m. Thanksgiving morning, before picking back up at 8 p.m. that night along with fellow big-box retailer Walmart.

The local Belk store, which typically opens around 3-5 a.m. Friday morning, has pushed festivities all the way back to midnight  for the first time this year.

K-Mart manager Sheila Earnest said the deals at her store will range from tech offerings to shoe wear, and will be broken up across the different special opening times.

“We’ll have TVs, notebooks, a little touch screen tablet for $39.99, a Pro-Scan DVD player for $9.99 and lots of other things,” she said. “All footwear is buy one get one free on Thursday. We have some really good sales, and we’re just hoping people will come out and take advantage.”

Belk manager on-duty Pattie Ward said the store’s traditional gift card door prizes will carry over to the early-start, as well as some unique tech gifts for sale.

“There’s some buzz on electronics for sale, and gift cards for the first several people in line,” she said.

With the economy finally starting to rebound after the recession that began in 2008, the Alabama Retail Association is projecting 2012 holiday sales to be at least 4 percent higher than the $8.8 billion spent during November-December last year.

Officials have seen an average monthly sales growth of 4.33 percent, which means local shoppers across the state should spend at least $350 million more this holiday season when compared to 2011 retail statistics.

Alabama retail growth is on track to match the national numbers, with holiday sales expected to grow by 4.1 percent to $586.1 billion this year. These increases are on top of 4.41 percent retail growth last holiday season.

Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at trentm@cullmantimes.com, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 220.

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