Bracing for Black Friday / Top of Utah stores hawk great deals to lure shoppers

Nov 25 2009 - 8:57pm

Retailers are expecting a big turnout this year for Black Friday, and their response is to give the best deals they can this year.

Roughly 77 million Americans are expected to head to stores Friday, the day often considered the official start of the holiday season.

"We think it's going to be a good year," said Brent Parkin, manager of Newgate Mall in Ogden.

"I think (shoppers) are going to be looking for bargains. I think (retailers) are going to definitely have items to attract shoppers."

While Wal-Mart spokeswoman Kelly Cheeseman wouldn't predict the number of shoppers for early Friday morning, she believes the retail giant is positioned to succeed this year in Black Friday sales.

"We believe customers will be wowed again by our prices, but we have to be really careful about making any predictions."

Among the deals offered by Wal-Mart are 50-inch Sanyo plasma HDTVs for $598, Magnavox Blu-Ray disc players for $78 and TomTom GPS systems for $59.

Brian Lutz, marketing specialist for CBL and Associates Properties, which manages Layton Hills Mall, is optimistic about Black Friday sales.

"I can't predict traffic patterns," he said, "but the mall's in the best situation to provide people with the best options available."

Many retailers, such as Sears, Toys R Us and Wal-Mart, have offered more deals throughout the week and into next week rather than consolidating deals into one morning. That helps them attract shoppers who want to miss the madness of Black Friday crowds.

"(Shoppers) are getting deep discounts, which you typically see on Black Friday," Lutz said.

"(Retailers) are trying to get more people to shop early, and encourage people to shop early."

Retailers are also thinking beyond Cyber Monday -- the Monday after Thanksgiving when consumers buy gifts online.

They are looking to try to spin their discounts into Cyber Weekends or Cyber Weeks. Target, Wal-Mart, J.C. Penney and others will offer online sales throughout the holiday weekend with additional deals on Monday.

The National Retail Federation said nearly nine out of every 10 retailers plan specific Cyber Monday deals, up slightly from 84 percent last year.

Security is also being beefed up this year in response to last year's death of a 34-year-old Wal-Mart employee who was trampled to death in a New York store opening.

Cheeseman said most Wal-Marts will remain open 24 hours to avoid the stampeding lines seen in years past. They also will place hot items throughout the store to help spread out crowds.

She said an event map is available at walmart.com, where shoppers can see exactly where the items they want will be located on Friday.

Parkin wouldn't comment on security procedures at Newgate Mall.

"We don't disclose our security procedures. We feel like we have adequate security."

Parkin said the mall will give away 1,000 gift bags Friday when it opens at 6 a.m. Many will have $10 mall gift cards, as well as other discounts and incentives. They also will have items from Martha Stewart Living, such as a spatula and recipes.

The mall is also offering a $10 gift card and one-year subscription to Martha Stewart Living to anyone who spends $100 or more from 6 a.m. to noon Friday.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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