Hurry up and finish that turkey, Black Friday is starting a day early this year at many stores.
And even if your favorite retail destination’s not open on Thanksgiving, you might still want to kick the relatives out right after dessert so you can get to bed at a decent hour. There will be all sorts of sales starting in the wee hours of Friday morning.
Shoppers should expect to find plenty of deals in stores this holiday season, said Rebecca Flach, spokeswoman for the Retail Council of New York State.
“It’s going to be exceptionally promotional,” she said. Black Friday-caliber deals started surfacing prior to Halloween and continued throughout November, she said.
Although the majority of stores will be closed Thursday, some larger ones will cater to those who think shopping makes a perfect Thanksgiving side dish.
The Old Navy store in Wilton Mall will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thanksgiving day. The Kmart at Rotterdam Square Mall will be open even longer — from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Boscov’s will be open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday at Colonie Center and Clifton Park Center. Local Walmart stores will be open 24 hours on Thanksgiving, and their official Black Friday sale begins at 10 p.m. Thursday.
Retailers’ encroachment on what has traditionally been a day devoted to feasting, family and football has caused some controversy, but shoppers are itchy to get a jump on their holiday purchases, said Flach.
“In reality, after Thanksgiving dinner, there’s people with a lot of downtime on their hands and they’re looking for something to do,” she said. “They’re spending time with their family and friends, but also what we’re noticing is that they’re shopping online. They’re ready to get a jump-start on their holiday shopping … so retailers, brick-and-mortar stores, want the same opportunity, so they’re opening a bit earlier and there’s demand for it.”
Dawn’s early light
Shoppers will be out in droves as Friday dawns. Select shops in Saratoga Springs will open at 6 a.m.
“Black Friday’s fabulous downtown. It’s packed at 6 in the morning and there’s lines out the door” said Susan Farnsworth, director of promotion and marketing for the Saratoga Downtown Business Association. “People will come in their PJs, too, which is really funny.”
The Downtown Business Association has teamed up with radio station WQAR-FM (Star 101.3) to make Black Friday more of an organized event. The radio station will do a live broadcast downtown that day.
At least a dozen Saratoga stores will offer incremental savings that will total as much as 50 percent off select items. The earlier the hour, the greater the savings.
Clifton Park Center will be open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday. Rob Ristau, director of marketing for the shopping complex, expects it to be a very busy day. Traffic is already up significantly at the mall, he said, thanks to the new Regal Cinemas Stadium 10 and the recently opened Apricot Lane Boutique, a trendy women’s clothing store.
The J.C. Penney store in Clifton Park Center will be open from 4 a.m. until 11 p.m. Black Friday. J.C. Penney will donate $25 to the Salvation Army, up to a total of $100,000, for every customer who uses the social networking service Foursquare to check in to a J.C. Penney store between 4 a.m. and 1 p.m. that day.
Crossgates Mall in Albany will be open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday. Colonie Center will also be open 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., but the anchor stores will open earlier. Macy’s will open at midnight Friday, while Boscov’s and Sears will both open at 4 a.m.
The first 300 shoppers to arrive at Colonie Center’s Center Court between 6 and 10 a.m. Friday will receive a free muffin or cupcake, complimentary coffee and a travel mug. Inside 100 of the mugs will be Colonie Center gift cards ranging from $5 to $250.
Wilton Mall will be open from 4 a.m to 10 p.m. Friday but select retailers will open at midnight that day. Shoppers who purchase mall gift cards with a minimum value of $50 each between 4 and 7 a.m. Friday will have the $3 per card purchase fee waived, up to a maximum of $30 in waived purchase fees.
Rotterdam Square Mall’s Black Friday hours are 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., but certain retailers will open at midnight. Shoppers who purchase mall gift cards with a minimum value of $50 each between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m. Friday will have the $3 per card purchase fee waived, up to a maximum of $30.
Going their own way
Many smaller retailers are foregoing the early morning Black Friday frenzy.
“We’ll be open and ready for everybody, but we don’t have the margins to work with like a big-box store, so that’s why you’re not going to find big deals and specials at the little shops,” said Kathy Fitzmaurice, owner of the Katbird Shop in Schenectady, which will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday.
The shop does have offerings that shoppers won’t find at the middle-of-the-night sales, Fitzmaurice said. “I have some great locally made scarves, handbags, ornaments. Everything is locally made. You won’t find these things other places, not too easily,” she said.
Northeastern Fine Jewelry in Schenectady will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday. “We don’t even open really early, because we’re a destination store and we’re not one of these places people come at 4 in the morning,” said store manager Allen Johnson.
The store does offer incentives for shoppers to come out on Black Friday. Customers will receive a free Kindle Fire with every purchase of regularly priced merchandise that amounts to $749 or more. For purchases of regularly priced items that total $1,499 or more, shoppers will receive a free iPad 2.
Stuyvesant Plaza’s Black Friday hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
“It’s difficult for our merchants, who are mostly smaller, to compete with the Black Friday at the big-box stores,” said Janet Kaplan, vice president of real estate for Stuyvesant Plaza.
But the shopping plaza offers a variety of interesting shops and also some amenities often in short supply on Black Friday: “We have a quieter, calmer atmosphere and personal service,” Kaplan said.