Ready, set, shop

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, November 25, 2008

FRANKLIN—Local retailers are gearing up for the biggest shopping day of the year, stocking shelves to full capacity and slashing prices to lure shoppers.

Lowe’s on Armory Drive will open its doors at 6 a.m. for Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving which is the traditional start of the Christmas shopping season.

“We’re expecting a large turnout, double the foot traffic,” said Mike Barnes, operations manager. “We have extra quantities of those items that are going to be on sale.”

Sale items include a crock pot for $9.99 and a pre-lit Christmas tree for $38.

According to a preliminary Black Friday shopping survey conducted by BIGresearch for the National Retail Federation, up to 128 million people will shop this Friday, Saturday or Sunday. According to the survey, 49 million people will definitely hit the stores while another 79 million are waiting to see the weekend deals before making any decisions. This number is down slightly from the 135 million people who said they would or may shop over Black Friday weekend last year.

Gas prices are down this year, leaving a little extra padding in shoppers’ wallets, too.

“While consumers are still expected to pull back in their holiday purchases, pent up demand from consumers who have been waiting all year long for great deals could also bode well for some retailers,” said a press release from the NRF.

“Retailers realize that low prices will get consumers into stores this holiday season, and this could be the most heavily promotioned Black Friday in history,” said Tracy Mullin, NRF President and CEO. “Shoppers who held off buying a DVD player or winter coat over the last few months will find that prices may literally be too good to pass up.”

Kevin Hudgins, manager at Wal-Mart, thinks that steeper discounts and large quantities of name-brand items will get people up early and shopping.

“We have a real big focus on name brands, whereas a lot of people on Black Friday have, in the past, — even Wal-Mart— sold generic electronics,” he said. “We’ve stocked the largest inventory ever.”

In the warehouse, sale items for Friday are wrapped in black shrink wrap, carefully guarded from leaks made popular on Web sites such as

Hudgins said he expects that customers will start lining up outside before the doors open at 5 a.m. Because of the crowds, the store will put the big sale items — code-named “blitz” — right out front.

“We’ll have all of the stuff down the main aisle. In the grocery aisle, we will pull all the food off and have stuff down there,” he said. “We’ll have it roped off.”

“We hope to see 10,000 people all day,” he said. “We average generally 35,000 a week.”

Mackans Office Supply and Printing on Main Street is opening its doors at 6 a.m. Friday.

Prices will be slashed 20 percent storewide, and other incentives are being offered to entice shoppers.

“If they spend $50, they will get a free 2009 desk calendar,” said owner Susan Jones, who also is giving away 100 business cards to anyone who comes in, dons a silly turkey hat and does their best gobble.

Jones said she hopes opening early on Black Friday will net customers to her downtown store.

“This is the first time we’ve done it, so I don’t know how it’s going to play out,” she said. “I will be open ‘till the last person leaves.”

Jones said the additional foot traffic will be good for business and for the city.

“Every dollar they spend in town, stays in town,” she said.