Shoppers begin Christmas season by flocking to stores on Friday
Long lines that formed in the wee hours of Friday morning prior to early store openings cleared the uncertain crystal balls for some Kingman store managers.
Many had been concerned about reports that consumers would spend less this Christmas.
"We had shoppers standing in line long before our 5 a.m.
opening," said a representative of the manager of one department store.
"It was busier than last year and steady all day."
That manager was on a company conference call to estimate the Christmas sales and plan the rest of a short shopping season.
Not everyone was lined up for that store's 5 a.m.
"We opened at 6 a.m.
and people were lined up all the way to the light on Stockton Hill Road," said Ben Osborn, assistant manager of another store.
"There must have been more than 500 people waiting for us to unlock the doors."
Rick Garland, manager of a Kingman music and book store, said people were lined up for their 8 a.m.
"We sold out of $9.99 pogo sticks early," he said.
"The $19.99 CD burners were gone quickly."
One of the top sellers was a Peter Jennings book "In Search of America."
A downtown discount department store had a steady stream of shoppers that made Beale Street look active even though all city offices were closed for the Thanksgiving holiday.
A chain-clothing department store on Stockton Hill Road had steady business from the 6 a.m.
opening throughout the day.
"I could not resist the two carat diamond tennis bracelet," one shopper said.
"All my friends have one and this price is just too good."
She asked to remain anonymous because she was buying her own Christmas gift.
A store representative said the lines at the cash register had been steady all through the day, but the lines were not long.
Parking lots were full at all the shopping areas, but nothing like the television pictures of long lines in larger cities.
Space was always available in the end of the parking lots where the grocery stores were located.
Several local restaurants began to fill about 9 a.m.
as the early shoppers stopped for a first cup of coffee and breakfast.
Osborn said the early specials and the excellent prices on many items brought the customers to his store.
"We had been doing much better than last year even before the traditional Friday after Thanksgiving rush," he said.
"Low prices on televisions, DVD players and computers have helped."
Another department store gave each customer a $10 credit for later shopping with each purchase of $50 or more during the early hours of Friday.
Terry Carpineta, manager of a national clothing and household store, said earlier in November that consumers would benefit from early Christmas sales as retailers show concern about consumer confidence.
The nations largest retailers have ordered less so they would not have mounds of leftovers.
Last year, consumers surprised everyone with a late shopping spree the last week before Christmas.
Last year, Thanksgiving weekend was not the largest shopping period of the season.
The National Retail Federation predicts a total holiday season sales up by 4 percent to $209.25 billion.
That would be the weakest increase since 1997.