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While some Wilsonians are basting turkeys this morning, others are already taking advantage of Black Friday deals. Well, at least that is the hope of many national retailers who have extended the traditional shopping period into Thursday.
With the 7 a.m. opening of the doors at Big Lots, the shopping season officially kicks off with 32 days until Christmas. According to the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics in a press release, 69 percent of Americans or 164 million people are planning to or will consider shopping during Thanksgiving this year.
In addition to Big Lots, a variety of other stores are open for business with special Thanksgiving Day deals. Belk is among them, rewarding the first 350 shoppers at 4 p.m. with gift cards from $5 to $1,000.
“We have a lot of other great promotions through Christmas, but this is the sale of the year where basically everything is on sale. This has the most offers at one time,” said Ashley Rhame, Belk store manager. “This four-day sale is probably about 5 percent of our annual volume. It is just a huge event.”
On Friday, the first 175 shoppers when the doors open at 6 a.m. will receive a scratch card with between $15 and $250 off any purchase. Rhame said she anticipates the $29.99 bedding sets and $19.99 boots will be hot ticket items and is planning to have nearly all staff working during the peak periods of the sale.
“It is definitely an ‘all hands on deck’ scenario,” she said.
The N.C. Retail Merchants Association said with one more holiday shopping day than 2016 and an extra weekend due to Christmas falling on a Monday this year, shoppers across the state will have plenty of time to #ShopNC this year.
“Our commitment to our communities, where we live and operate, is strong and deep, and we hope shoppers will visit brick and mortar stores like ours not only because of our excellent staff, superior customer service and specialty products we provide, but also to give back to their communities, by keeping their money local,” said Fuquay-Varina shop Ashworth’s Clothing owner Steve Ashworth, who also is the chairman of the N.C. Retail Merchants Association board.
Some national merchants have reversed the Black Friday creep by staying closed on Thanksgiving, such as Lowe’s, Tractor Supply, Staples and PetSmart. All of the stores have put together a variety of promotions in hopes of winning a larger share of the average $967.13 surveyed shoppers said they plan to spend, according to a press release.
However, local law enforcement reminded Wilsonians that criminals also will be looking to win big during the season of giving.
“The holiday season is right around the corner, and shoppers are crowding malls and discount stores to buy the latest gadgets and find the best deals,” said Wilson County Sheriff Calvin L. Woodard, Jr in a press release.
Shoppers are encouraged to stay vigilant. Officials urged people to shop with friends during daylight hours, dressing casually and comfortable without expensive jewelry. Woodard said cash and car keys should be kept in a front pocket instead of wallet or purse to avoid theft and avoid leaving valuables in vehicles. Shoppers should be aware of surroundings, checking around and in your car before getting in.
“This time of year attracts more shopping-related criminal activity because of the larger crowds and the extended store hours,” Woodard stated. “These factors and the usual distraction of shopping, creates a more favorable environment for petty thieves and other offenders.”
Vigilance should extend to keeping an eye out for credit card fraud as well. Shoppers should never write their PIN number down or share it with others, only carry the credit cards that are necessary and keep records of all transactions. When shopping online, only use trusted vendors on secure websites, never giving any personal information over the phone or via email.
“Unfortunately, when shopping, people have a tendency to let their guard down,” said Woodard. “However, paying attention and taking precautions can help eliminate their chances of being victimized.”