Printed on: November 27, 2012

Area businesses in the black over weekend

By Nate Sunderland
nsunderland@postregister.com

Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday and Small Business Saturday exceeded -- or at least met -- the expectations of many small and large retailers in eastern Idaho.

The Idaho Falls Target this year opened at 9 p.m. Thursday for the first time and saw a huge turnout.

"For 45 minutes we had a straight flow of people coming in from the lineup (outside)," Target Logistics Manager Josh Conrad said.

Target had similarly heavy sales day Friday and Saturday. The store exceeded its 2011 numbers for the holiday weekend's sales and attendance, Conrad said.

Among the hottest items at Target were the 50-inch LCD televisions which sold out within the first 15 minutes of business Thursday, Conrad said.

Black Friday sales also were strong at the Idaho Falls' J.C. Penney.

Unlike many department stores, J.C. Penney opted to stay closed Thursday and opened at 6 a.m. Friday.

"Our decision to stay closed on the holiday got a great response from customers, because they were pleased that we'd do that for our associates," Store Manager Heidi Hawkins said.

The decision doesn't appear to have hurt sales. J.C. Penney had a steady stream of customers all day Friday and Saturday, and it was the best turnout the store had seen in the past four years, Hawkins said.

One of the things that made the weekend so successful was a new marketing strategy, Hawkins said. In lieu of "door busters" or deals with an early Friday expiration, the store opted to hold specific Black Friday deals all day long.

"Our products were outstanding and the pricing was exactly what the consumer was looking for," Hawkins said.

At department stores in Rexburg, Black Friday sales were comparable to last year.

The Rexburg Walmart was open all day Thursday, but for the first time began its Black Friday deals at 8 p.m., rather than at midnight or early Friday morning.

Store manager Mike Bullard said the store had a steady stream of customers Thursday, Friday and Saturday, despite Thursday's early opening.

"The time frames may have changed, but business has remained steady," Bullard said.

Hastings in Idaho Falls also reported sales and attendance that were comparable to last year. It also opened on Thanksgiving Day.

"We were right where we wanted to be," Store Manager Jay Schriock said. "Just about exactly on par for what we were expecting."

Schriock called this holiday season the "Christmas of the tablet." By far, he said, the most popular items sold during the Thanksgiving weekend were tablet computers.

Small businesses in Idaho Falls also reported good sales.

Porter's Craft and Frame exceeded expectations in both sales and attendance Friday and Saturday. Store Manager Audrey Rydalch said it received customers from all over eastern Idaho and western Wyoming. The most popular items sold were holiday craft sets.

Nationwide it's estimated that U.S. shoppers hit stores in record numbers over the weekend, according to a survey released by the National Retail Federation and reported on by the Associated Press on Sunday. One of reasons for the increases was because large chains such as Toys R Us and Target opted to open on Thanksgiving evening this year.

The survey shows a record 247 million shoppers visited stores and websites over the four-day weekend starting on Thanksgiving, up 9.2 percent of last year. Total spending over the four-day weekend totaled $59.1 billion, up 12.8 percent from 2011.

Nate Sunderland can be reached at 542-6763. Comment on this story on Post Talk at www.postregister.com/posttalk/.