Retailers Bank on Black Friday

NEW YORK — With Black Friday just a few days away, many retailers are getting creative for the holiday season.

Storeowners of all stripes said last week they are hoping Black Friday and other big shopping days will help them end the year on a high note.

For the first time, Payless ShoeSource is distributing a coupon that is valid the entire weekend after Thanksgiving, to save shoppers the stress of rushing out to stores on Friday morning.

Shoppers can text “SleepIn” to a special number by Nov. 25 and receive the special digital coupon that offers savings on top of Payless’ regular discounts. “We haven’t done anything like this for Black Friday in the past, and the offer, we believe, is fun, unique and unprecedented among retailers,” said LuAnn Via, CEO of Payless. “It lets shoppers relax and enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends, and encourages them to sleep in on Black Friday, avoid the hectic early-morning shopping crowds and still get a great deal all weekend long. ”

Other big retailers, such as Macy’s, are sticking to a standard morning routine and opening with specials that start at 5 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 27, and at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 28.

JCPenney is holding its largest Black Friday sale to date, with discounts that are 15 percent higher than last year. Customers also can sign up to receive wake-up calls from Cindy Crawford or Kimora Lee Simmons (both partners of the store), so they can make it to the 4 a.m. opening. During the weekend, New Balance, Adidas and Nike shoes will all be discounted, as well as select boots for women.

Online retailer Shoebuy.com added more than 100 brands in the last two-and-a-half months to prep for the holiday months, including styles from Steve Madden, BCBG and Vince Camuto. The site also will provide free overnight shipping and a gift center for customers shopping on Friday.

“[There are] lots of different things that will be giving a strong presence on those days, as people are in holiday shopping hunt mode,” said Shoebuy.com CEO Scott Savitz. “We expect to see more than 700,000 visitors between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.”

Independent retailers also were bullish about Black Friday.

Opening Ceremony’s New York store is offering post-Thanksgiving shoppers 30 percent to 50 percent off select merchandise from the fall collections. “It’s always crazy and insane in here,” said store manager Jayna Lin. “I can literally expect a rush of people from the moment the doors open to closing.”

Beyond promotions, some independents plan to hold in-store events.

For the first time, RunTex in Austin, Texas, is hosting an Expo set-up with a pre-race feel. Packages of items will be bundled together and offer savings of about 20 percent. “We’ll see a good start to the holiday season,” said Paul Carrozza, RunTex owner and president. “People are more focused on buying smart gifts.”

Some independents are also hiring more staff this season to help manage the crowds.

Allan’s Shoes in Bay City, Mich., recently added four extra part-time staff members, with plans to keep the employees for at least a few months.

“We’re doing a lot more sales than we have in the past, so we’re hoping for a lot more customers this winter,” said co-owner and manager Taylor Finn.

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