Posted by: Apostolic Oneness Pentecostals | November 18, 2008

Black Friday Tips For Atlanta’s Shoppers

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Monday, November 17, 2008

Black Friday is looking kind of blue … for retailers anyway.

Stores such as Best Buy that traditionally draw a big Black Friday crowd lowered earnings forecasts earlier this month, sending shock waves through the retail world. But while sellers may be suffering, Black Friday shoppers who have the funds may get some of the deepest discounts on all sorts of merchandise in recent years.

“Chain store sales were a disaster,” said Steven Platt of Platt Retail Institute, noting the glut of merchandise many retailers now possess thanks to slow back-to-school sales and the influx of holiday items. “You are starting to see 50 percent off sales which at this time of year is crazy.”

Meager 10 percent to 40 percent-off sales no longer have an effect on most consumers, 41 percent of whom said in a recent Maritz Poll survey that they would be shopping on Black Friday.

The annual shopping holiday is known for “doorbuster” sales — huge discounts on key merchandise — and a grab-bag of gimmicks that retailers employ to lure shoppers through the door.

“The reality is when you are seeing these deep discount kinds of items at 60 to 70 percent off … [retailers] lose money on that, but they get a positive lift on other products purchased elsewhere in the store,” Platt says.

Most major retailers offer some type of Black Friday promotion, and some go the extra mile to market their sales. Some stores and local malls such as North Point Mall in Alpharetta are opening at midnight late Thursday to extend Black Friday shopping time. Shoppers who wear pajamas to Prime Outlets in Calhoun will gain midnight entry, and the first 500 will receive a free goodie bag. Best Buy will reward one local winner of a 250-word essay contest with a $1,000 gift card, a limo ride to and from Best Buy and a Flip camcorder to document the event. Earlier this month, Sears began offering pre-Black Friday sales and made layaway available for some of the merchandise.

Still, anyone who has braved Black Friday knows it is about so much more than just a sale. It’s the thrill of shopping in the wee hours. The rush of scoring that coveted product at the lowest price it has been all year. The satisfaction of making a dent in your holiday shopping while your neighbors are still rolling over in a turkey-induced sleep.

 

TIPS:

Follow these tips in our shopping survival guide to keep ahead of the frenzy and ward off the Black Friday blues:

 

How to get a real saleHow do you know if 30 percent off is really a sale? You don’t. It’s pretty much impossible to know a retailer’s markup.

 

However, if you are going for advertised Black Friday “doorbusters,” you’re almost guaranteed to be getting a substantial discount. Stores price these items to attract shoppers and plan to lose money on them, says Michael Brim of bfads.net, a site that gives shoppers an early look at leaked Black Friday ads from places such as Sam’s Club, Staples and more.

Before hitting stores on Black Friday, Brim suggests taking the time to comparison shop. For example, in leaked Black Friday ads, Sears advertised a Panasonic 42-inch plasma TV for $900 that Brim spotted online for $800 at 6th Avenue Electronics (with free shipping). Several retailers including Best Buy, Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club are offering notebook computers in the $300 range. Determine which item has the features you want and which store is closest to your targeted shopping area.

You can also use the site to check the original retail price of an item against the advertised Black Friday price. There is a chance that final Black Friday prices and merchandise will change, Brim says, but you can still begin plotting a shopping strategy before the actual ads hit.

 

Where to shopDepending on the kind of merchandise you’re after and the type of shopper you are, there are any number of metro Atlanta options to get optimal return for your Black Friday time investment. Virtually any major mall in the metro area is within a short driving distance of the specialty chains such as Best Buy, Toys R Us, and Sam’s Club, all of which offer big Black Friday bargains. Here are a few suggestions:

 

The all-in-one area shopper: Lenox Square, Phipps Plaza, Target, Best Buy, Toys R Us … and the list goes on. Buckhead is Atlanta shopping central with retailers that range from the big box stores to boutiques and that span the spectrum from mainstream to luxury. That said, it is also very popular, which may mean bigger crowds than other shopping areas.

The value shopper: Sears and Costco are anchors of Cumberland Mall, which also is home to many of the specialty retailers found at other malls. Best Buy and other large retailers are nearby, but so are a selection of boutiques in Vinings Ivy Walk for the shopper who seeks a more exclusive shopping experience.

The Black Friday enthusiast: A 12:01 a.m. opening may make North Point Mall an enticing Black Friday destination this season. Anchors include JC Penney, Sears, Macy’s, Dillard’s and Belk while just up North Point Parkway is Best Buy. Sam’s Club is also about a five-minute drive.

The outlet shopper: Discover Mills in Lawrenceville has some upscale tenants including Saks Fifth Avenue Off Fifth and Neiman Marcus Last Call. The outlet center is also opening at midnight and it is a mere five miles from Gwinnett Place Mall in case you also decide to hit traditional retailers such as JC Penney, Sears and Belk.

 

Kids or no kids?It’s probably best to leave younger kids at home on Black Friday. Stollers and crowds just don’t mix, though we know a few shoppers willing to use four wheels and a child as a weapon. Younger children may also be seduced by the shopping mania and pitch a tantrum that slows your progress. That said, teens and young adults can be an asset to a divide-and-conquer shopping strategy. And you’ll have someone to help carry the bags.

 

If you can’t find a sitter, Concourse Athletic Club, in the Perimeter Mall area, is offering Black Friday dhildcare from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for children ages 6 weeks and up ($7 per hour for non-members). Call 770-698-2061.

 

What to wearDressing for Black Friday is a bit like dressing for airport security lines. Wear simple, comfortable shoes and dress in easy-to-remove layers, particularly if you are shopping for shoes and apparel. For women, a fitted T-shirt or tank worn under a sweater can help avoid lengthy fitting room lines. In addition, if you’re shopping the outlet malls or other venues that require frequent indoor-to-outdoor movement, a light jacket or vest over your layers will help you keep warm without a lot of bulk.

 

 

What to eatIf you think the stores are crowded on Black Friday, just try the food court around lunchtime. Lines wrap around the aisles and tables are hard to come by. So…

 

1. Eat before you leave home. If you’re the camping-out-‘til-the-store-opens type, take food in disposable containers to eat while waiting in line.

2. Carry energy-providing snacks such as nuts or dried fruit and take bottled water to get you through the major shopping hours.

3. If you must have a meal out, plan to eat on your way home. Avoid restaurants in high-density shopping areas that draw Black Friday crowds.


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