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UPDATE: Retailers encouraged by Black Friday response

Shoppers jam Valencia mall by noon in bargain-hunting frenzy

Posted: November 29, 2013 9:10 a.m.
Updated: November 29, 2013 6:26 p.m.

One Black Friday shopper was crossng items off his list at the Westfield Valencia Town Center mall on Friday. Signal photo by Dan Watson

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Black Friday got off to a slow start in the Santa Clarita Valley, but by noon parking spaces were at a premium at the Westfield Valencia Town Center and shoppers jammed the mall.

“It was crazy last year but it’s crazier this year,” said Fabiolo Quintana, manager at the New York & Company store inside the mall.

“It’s been good,” she said shortly before noon, stepping out of the way of customers. “I think a lot of people are shopping more than last year.”

Black Friday began quietly, at least at the Valencia mall. Certainly the allure of rising early the day after Thanksgiving for good deals seemed absent, possibly dampened by the chance to shop during the holiday itself at many stores that opened early.

At 9 a.m. many stores were empty; the mall corridors boasted no crowds, no noise, no commotion.

Taylor Gordon, wearing an apron and holding a tray full of handout bite-sized treats, found no takers and chatted with fellow workers who had no customers to wait on.

By noon, it was a completely different story. Parking spaces were at a premium.

Gordon was still handing out samples of Popcornopolis treats and had to refill her samples tray shortly before noon as shoppers kept grabbing tiny paper cups of popcorn as they walked by.

“After they’ve been shopping, they get a little hungry and say, ‘I’m going to have some popcorn,’” she said.

One store that was packed was Gymboree, which advertised in its store window: “Now until noon, entire store 50 percent off.”

Gymboree manager Pat Hall, intercepted as she darted around the store with sale signs, said: “It’s fabulous, fabulous. It’s insane but it’s fun.”

Mother and daughter shoppers Carla and Rachael Landis went to the mall on Black Friday with a short shopping list of specific items — clothing and one pair of shoes, they said.

“Trying on clothes is tiring,” Carla said. “But, actually, it’s been very efficient. We didn’t even have to stand in line very long.”

The day after Thanksgiving, called Black Friday, is typically the biggest shopping day of the year. For a decade, it had been considered the official start of the holiday buying season.

But in the past few years, retailers have pushed opening times into Thanksgiving night. They’ve also pushed up discounting that used to be reserved for Black Friday into early November, which has led retail experts to question whether the Thanksgiving openings will steal some of Black Friday’s thunder.

Overall, the National Retail Federation expects retail sales to be up 4 percent to $602 billion during the last two months of 2013. That’s higher than last year’s 3.5 percent growth, but below the 6 percent pace seen before the recession.
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt



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