Shopping season set to take off


Maggie Brock, left, and her mother Jennifer Brock look at toys on Nov. 23, 2017, at Target.


Staff Writer

Sunday, November 18, 2018

People from across the Twin Counties will be gearing up to find the best deals from retailers during what has been recognized as the start of the holiday shopping season.

The Black Friday shopping weekend, which now starts Thursday on Thanksgiving and goes through the weekend, continues to be the busiest shopping time of the year. According to the National Retail Federation, Black Friday sales are forecast to be up 4.1 percent this year and shoppers on average are expected to spend $1,007.24.

The Federation said consumers are expected to spend $637.67 on gifts and $215.04 on food, decorations, flowers and greeting cards. Shoppers will also spend $154.53 to take advantage of the seasonal deals and promotions. The forecast estimated that holiday retail sales in November and December will be up between 4.3 percent and 4.8 percent over 2017 for a total of between $717.45 billion and $720.89 billion.

Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the National Retail Federation, said consumers are ready to shop with the holidays just around the corner.

“Confidence is near an all-time high, unemployment is the lowest we’ve seen in decades and take-home wages are up,” Shay said. “All of that is reflected in consumers’ buying plans. Retailers expect strong demand this year and are prepared with a wide array of merchandise while offering strong deals and promotions during the busiest and most competitive shopping season of the year.”

The JCPenney in the Golden East Crossing mall is hoping to be the beneficiary of local consumers looking take advantage of Black Friday deals. JCPenney will open at 2 p.m. Thursday and stay open through Friday until it closes at 10 a.m. The department store will re-open at 8 a.m. Saturday.

Frank Paziena, general manager of the Rocky Mount JCPenney, said the store has hired an additional 50 associates for the holiday season. JCPenney will be offering coupon giveaways of $10, $100 or $500 off select store purchases. Paziena expects big selling items to include women’s and girls’ boots, jewelry and appliances.

“We’re excited for shoppers to visit our store this year, and our team is here to help customes find everything they need on their list for less time, money and effort,” Paziena said.

Jon Vincent, founder of earlyBlackFriday.com, a website that’s dedicated to reporting the hottest deals for the Black Friday weekend, said consumers can now purchase a lot of Black Friday products or items online on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. He added Cyber Monday over the years has become an extension of Black Friday.

Vincent said Black Friday is critical for traditional retailers because department stores hope to see a higher volume of foot traffic.

“Black Friday traffic is driven by the doorbuster deals that you can only get in store, so for retailers it helps get people to the stores,” Vincent said. “Black Friday for consumers is still the best deals for the holiday shopping season because of competition from the major retailers where everyone is having a sale trying to one up each other during that time because after that there is just random sales.”

Vincent said just as it has been in the past, the items that will quickly be flying off the shelves will be the big-screen HDTVs and various electronics. Vicent said the best TV deals include the Element 55-inch Smart Ultra HDTV for $199.99 at Target and the Sharp 65-inch 4k Roku Smart HDTV for $398 at Walmart.

The best buys for electronics include the Apple iPad Mini 4 (128GB) for $249.99 at Target, a savings of $150 off the original price. With the bankruptcy of Toys “R” Us, Vincent said Walmart and Target have beefed up their toy lines and Paziena said the local JCPenney is also looking to fill that void. 

“We got more toys than last year, so we’re just trying to satisfy the needs of our local shoppers,” he said.

For more information on Black Friday and the best deals, visit earlyblackfriday.com.