E.V. shoppers flock to Black Friday weekend - East Valley Tribune: News

E.V. shoppers flock to Black Friday weekend

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Posted: Saturday, November 28, 2009 4:21 pm | Updated: 2:40 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

East Valley malls and shopping centers are pulling out all the stops this holiday season to capture crowds by carrying Black Friday deals into the weekend, retail officials reported. At Fiesta Mall in Mesa, spokeswoman Melissa Buxton said on Saturday retailers kept up incentives, though somewhat less than the price slashing on Black Friday.

Retailers jolly over Black Friday turnout

Slideshow: Area stores on Black Friday

East Valley malls and shopping centers are pulling out all the stops this holiday season to capture crowds by carrying Black Friday deals into the weekend, retail officials reported. At Fiesta Mall in Mesa, spokeswoman Melissa Buxton said on Saturday retailers kept up incentives, though somewhat less than the price slashing on Black Friday.

Retailers jolly over Black Friday turnout

Slideshow: Area stores on Black Friday

In a word, "giveaways" was one way retailers and mall officials kept shoppers coming back, she said.

"We gave over $20,000 dollars away in gift cards and shopping sprees," Buxton said of the combined efforts at her site and other Westcor-owned properties.

Shopper Debbie Turney of Tempe said she was on the receiving end of a $1,000 shopping spree, but not until after she'd spent several hours shopping with family.

"We said we were going to go shopping for two hours," she said of an outing with her sister-in-law and niece on Friday. "Six hours later we were ready to leave."

With more than a dozen family members waiting at home, Turney said she was ready to leave when her sister-in-law asked her to register to win the shopping spree.

"So, I got my wristband, and then we went around shopping some more," she said. Moments later, and after winning what she described as the surprise of her shopping season, Turney headed home with just under a thousand dollars left to spend on gifts for her family.

"I had to buy gifts for my sister-in-law and niece because without them telling me to register, I wouldn't have won," said the mother of two, who said she also shared the prize with her husband.

Buxton said Westcor facilities across the East Valley rolled out a number of incentives to keep shoppers coming back over the entire weekend.

Buxton said at the Mesa location, two new anchor stores helped to bolster revenue. She said the addition of a Dick's Sporting Goods and Best Buy were a godsend this year.

Out-of-towners Jayne Bloss, her husband, Kenneth, and her in-laws, Kenneth Bloss Sr. and his wife, Cressence, all rested in massage chairs after a lengthy search for place mats with "Arizona" written on them.

"We couldn't find them anywhere," said Jayne Bloss, who met her in-laws at Fiesta Mall. She said she and her husband hail from Alamogordo, N.M., and her husband's parents came from Rochester, N.Y.

While their shopping list reads more like a short, souvenir treasure hunt, the four Blosses said they've been spending their tourists dollars at places like Sedona, the Grand Canyon, and during their brief visit to Fiesta Mall.

A few miles away at Chandler Fashion Center, spokeswoman Devon Hoffman said her site has seen a marked increase in revenue this year.

"We opened for the first time ever at midnight on Friday this year, along with five other Westcor centers, and our traffic is up over 20 percent" from last year, Hoffman said.

Saturday was more of the same, Hoffman said, adding that a lot of retailers "have extended their promotions throughout the weekend."

Retail experts across the country have also looked to online shopping as a means to drive revenue this year.

PriceGrabber.com announced Saturday that shoppers continued to take advantage of Black Friday promotions and incentives, especially in the areas of electronic goods, including televisions, Global Positioning Systems and gaming systems.

The Web site, which tracks consumers through online surveys over the holiday season, reported that a phenomenon known as Cyber Monday, or when shoppers take advantage of online sales planned for Monday, showed that about 60 percent of those polled planed to make purchases online that day.

"Retailers rose to the challenge of enticing shoppers on Black Friday in a tough economy this year," said Laura Conrad, president of PriceGrabber.com. "They (retailers) advertised a number of different incentives prior to Thanksgiving weekend, including aggressive pricing, free shipping and free accessories with a purchase."

According to the National Retail Federation, retailers in all sectors have reported strong crowds. Although the exact numbers of the shopping weekend won't be released until later, the projections are fair, retail experts said.

The federation estimates holiday sales will decrease by only 1 percent this year to $437.6 billion nationally. Its holiday sales forecast is based on an economic model using indicators like housing data, unemployment and previous monthly retail sales reports and includes retail industry sales from November and December.

Although shoppers are not expected to spend heavily on gifts this year because of the weak economy, a lot of what they do spend is likely to happen this weekend, according to a poll by the National Retail Federation.

The survey found that up to 134 million consumers will shop on Friday, Saturday or Sunday, more than the 128 million in last year's survey. The poll said 57 million plan to definitely hit the stores while another 77 million could go out if the discounts are tempting enough.

Retail experts are also relying on old-fashioned draws to keep consumers spending their dollars this year, said SanTan Village spokeswoman Jennifer Olson.

On Saturday evening beneath the stars of the outdoor shopping center, she said free horse and carriage rides kept guests entertained.

"That's unique to SanTan Village," she said. "We really focus on the atmosphere of the outdoor center experience here."

For the entire holiday season, Olson said carriage rides, faux snow and hot cocoa aplenty would help to lift shoppers' spirits as they make their merry purchases.

"We have snowfall in the children's play area on Friday and Saturdays every 10 minutes on the half hour between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.," she said.

And of course, what's snow, hot cocoa and gift purchasing without caroling, Olson said. Carolers from Red Mountain High School in Mesa roam the grounds of the center singing to shoppers during the evenings on Fridays and Saturdays, as well.

"People like to come; all of the experiences they have throughout the center really add to the holiday experience," Olson said.

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