Stores prepare to open earlier, serve Black Friday crowds


by QUITA CULPEPPER / KVUE News and Photojournalist DAVID GARDNER

Posted on November 19, 2012 at 6:22 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 19 at 6:49 PM

AUSTIN -- Stores across the nation and in Austin are getting ready for big sales as the holiday shopping season begins later this week. For better or worse, this time around many retailers plan to be open on Thanksgiving Day.

Lakeline Mall is preparing for one of its busiest days of the year. 

"We’re ready for the sales frenzy,” said Monica Esparza, the mall’s director of marketing. “We are preparing fast and furiously. We've got our goodie bags starting to get stuffed. We’ll also have breakfast for the early morning shoppers, get some shopping fuel going.”

Last year Lakeline opened its doors at 4 a.m. on Black Friday. This year it plans to open the main doors at midnight.

“We do have a line of people waiting at our entrance doors, and the department stores will see that same line as well,” said Esparza. 

The National Retail Federation says last year shoppers spent $52.4 billion during Black Friday weekend.

The holiday shopping season is critical for retailers because around 20 percent of sales happen between Black Friday and Christmas.

"This is our Superbowl,” said Express Manager Andy Hermosillo. “We've been waiting all year for this, so this is either going to make it or break it for us for the rest of the year.” 

Hermosillo says on average, his store sees about 800 customers a day. 

“On Black Friday we're expecting to see probably about 4,000 people coming in," Hermosillo said.

Hermosillo says he’s had no problem getting employees to work the extra hours. 

“I actually put up a sign-up sheet for people who wanted to volunteer to work the madness time, and I was surprised it was full by the end of the day,” Hermosillo said.

Some shoppers like Rachael Morton and her daughter London plan to avoid the Black Friday pandemonium.

“The throngs of people that are out trying to get good deals, I would rather go when it's a little more quiet,” Morton said. “I may not get the best deals, but I like to be a zen shopper.”

Many major department stores including Sears, Toys R Us and Walmart will open their doors at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving Day.

Click here for a list of stores who have announced special hours for Black Friday.

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