Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Shoppers Skip Sleep, Hit Stores Christmas Countdown Begins on `Black Friday'

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Shoppers Skip Sleep, Hit Stores Christmas Countdown Begins on `Black Friday'

Article excerpt

DARIEN -- Bunny McGovern is a serious Christmas shopper.

The Orlando resident visiting her sister in Waycross got up at

3 a.m. yesterday to be one of the first to show up at the

Magnolia Bluff Factory Shops for an early-bird sale at the Tommy

Hilfiger Co.

Her motivation? A 30 percent discount that ran from 5:45 to 9

a.m.

"I wanted to get here before it got busy," McGovern said. "I

like shopping."

McGovern wasn't the only one in Southeast Georgia to get an

early start Christmas shopping yesterday, the busiest day of the

year for many merchants.

Shoppers arrived at Magnolia Bluff as early as 4 a.m. to wait

for doors to open, said Al Underwood, general manager of the

shopping complex. Underwood predicted 16,000 to 18,000 customers

would shop at Magnolia Bluff yesterday.

Retailers count on the holidays for about half their annual

sales and profits. Last year, consumers did 10 percent of their

Christmas shopping during the weekend following Thanksgiving,

according to the International Council of Shopping Centers, a

New York-based trade group.

"Some people call this day Black Friday or Green Friday,"

Underwood said of the day when businesses traditionally report

profits that can put their books in the black for the rest of

the year.

Although consumers will fill stores and malls this weekend

nationwide, some retailers still worry customers will browse,

rather than buy. Sales for much of this year have been less than

stellar and the past two holiday seasons have been disappointing

for retailers.

But retailers in Southeast Georgia are optimistic about this

holiday season.

St. Marys businesswoman Sheila McNeill said she expects record

sales for her gift shop. She predicted other area merchants

would have strong sales as well, despite the absence of indoor

malls in Camden County.

"People are so busy, they like the convenience of pulling up to

a store, parking nearby and shopping," McNeill said. …

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