Shopping starts later for some

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 25, 2010

NATCHEZ — Local retailers are getting ready for the shopping frenzy of Black Friday, but they say they have a little extra time to prepare.

For local shops, the rush of holiday shoppers doesn’t really begin until mid-morning after the early-morning bargains of bigger stores have passed.

Steve Bowlin, manager of Sports Center in Natchez, said his store will open one hour early, at 8 a.m., because that is when crowds will start showing up.

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“Normally we have two to three times as much traffic than on a normal day,” Bowlin said. “But our customers come a little bit later. After they hit the malls and Walmart at 3 a.m., they filter down to us.”

At the Natchez Mall, JCPenney and Belk will open their doors at 4 a.m. and other stores will open at 5:30 and 6 a.m.

Black Friday, the moniker used to describe the day-after-Thanksgiving shopping frenzy, is traditionally a day retailers use to judge the pace for their holiday sales, and local retailers say they depend on good holiday sales.

“We are normally busy starting Friday and going through the weekend,” said Julie Smith, owner of The Pampered Sole in downtown Natchez.

Bowlin said the day is a good gauge on how the Christmas season will go and he is expecting good things for this year.

“There is a good busy and a bad busy and this time of year is a good busy,” he said. “This is the time of year when our customers are happy and excited about Christmas and family and that makes the work fun for our employees.”

Smith said the weekend after Thanksgiving is one of the top three weekends of the year for the clothing store, with other busy times being the weekend of the Great Mississippi River Balloon Race and the days leading up to Mardi Gras call-out balls.

Smith said her store will not open early Friday, as most shoppers already have a plan of attack for the early morning bargains.

“Most people that get out for the early morning shopping, will come see us later in the day anyway,” Smith said. “They know they are going to get out and try to get those deals on electronics and such early in the morning and will come to see us later.”

At Just 4 You Monograms and Gifts, Kelly Fuller is a little nervous about her first holiday shopping season as a store owner.

She said, as a shopper, she was never one to get involved in the post-turkey day madness, but now, as a shop owner, she is excited.

“My family was usually out of town for Thanksgiving, so we didn’t do the shopping thing,” Fuller said. “I really don’t know what to expect, but I’m looking forward to it.”

Fuller said she will be open regular hours Friday since many people will be shopping for big discounts at other stores.