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Lincoln stores brace for big shopping days

Staff Writer

Local retailers are gearing up for the annual shopping frenzy that is Black Friday.
Though many big-box stores nationwide are opting to begin their specials Thursday evening, the trend hasn’t entirely caught on locally, with a few exceptions.
Wal-Mart locations across the country, including in Lincoln County, will be kicking off their in-store specials 8 p.m. Thanksgiving Day.
This will be followed by their electronics event at 10 p.m. and additional savings to be rolled out beginning 5 a.m. Friday.
“No matter our customers’ shopping preference – whether it is to stay up late or shop early – they will find amazing low prices on the broadest assortment we’ve ever offered,” said Duncan MacNaughton, chief merchandising and marketing officer of Wal-Mart U.S., in a statement.
Some other retailers are opting to begin their online deals Thursday, though their in-store sales won’t actually start until Friday.
This includes Lowe’s Home Improvement, which will begin offering Black Friday specials online at 7 p.m. Thursday. Their doors will open the following morning at 5 a.m.
A manager with the Lowe’s on East Main Street in Lincolnton told the Times-News Monday that in terms of foot traffic, she is expecting similar, if not a bit higher, numbers than in previous years. However, she anticipates that Internet sales will be twice the amount as last year. This is, in part, due to the growing popularity of online shopping, as well as the early deals being offered on their website.
Also this year, for the first time ever, all Belk stores will be opening at midnight for Black Friday, Chuck Yoder, store manager of the Belk on North Generals Boulevard in Lincolnton, told the Times-News on Monday.
Lincolnton’s Belk will have more than 300 early-bird specials and will be doling out gift cards to some of the first customers to arrive.
Yoder said his staff has been “working feverishly” to get everything in place for the hundreds he expects to begin lining up outside their doors late Thanksgiving night.
He has even tapped a local police officer to help with crowd control.
In anticipation of such crowds, he has been developing strategies to allow for reasonable access to their products and to help keep the aisles clear.
Nonetheless, extra space may be hard to come by.
“We’re filled to the brim with merchandise,” he added.
Yoder noted that the store has been “blessed” in recent years with crowds that have remained orderly, and he hopes the same will be true of this year’s shopping event.
Sears Hometown Store on East Main Street in Lincolnton will be, as in past years, opening Friday at 4 a.m. A manager of the store told the Times-News that they typically have about 20 people lined up. A similar number is expected this year.
Cato on North Generals Boulevard in Lincolnton, which offers regular clearance merchandise year-round, will also be extending their hours of operation for Black Friday shoppers, with doors open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Though the store offers discount retail every day, store manager Maria Navey told the Times-News that they will have newly marked-down clearance items for sale Friday.
After the rush of Black Friday wraps up, “Small Business Saturday” gets under way the next day. This will be the third year for the nationwide event, designed to boost small- and independent-business owners’ sales for the start of the holiday shopping season.
The day was created in response to small-business owners’ most pressing need: more customers, according to a National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) press release.
“Research has shown that American consumers have a deep trust in, and admiration for, the small-business community,” said NFIB CEO Dan Danner in the release.
“Small Business Saturday gives them a chance to show their appreciation – and help America’s essential job creators in a very real way – by patronizing small shops, restaurants and service providers. And anything that helps with sales is certainly appreciated by small-business owners, many of whom have struggled to stay afloat in a rough and uncertain economy.”
Lincolnton-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce President Ken Kindley told the Times-News Monday that he certainly hopes local independent retailers will see increased sales this year.
However, he stressed that with both Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, the emphasis should be placed on shopping locally, whether the retailers are big or small.
The opening wave of holiday shopping concludes with “Cyber Monday,” which takes place Nov. 26.

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