November 24, 2011

Shopping madness starting earlier

Jamie Jones
jamiejones@daltoncitizen.com

— Black Friday may become a thing of the past.

Hoping to lure sale-happy customers before the day after Thanksgiving — which many consider the official start of the holiday shopping season — many retailers are getting a jump by opening today. In Dalton, Walmart is open all day while Kmart’s store hours are from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

And the shopping madness continues before dawn on Friday.

Early risers will be rewarded for shopping at Walnut Square Mall. Some mall tenants will open as early as midnight Friday. As part of the “Rise ‘N Rewards” program, shoppers there can begin lining up Friday as early as they want to. At 4 a.m. at the Rush Mall entrance in front of Pearle Vision, the first 100 shoppers will be handed a number so they can choose a mystery “Rise ‘N Rewards” envelope filled with a CBL Select Gift Card valued from $10 to $100. One lucky person will win an Apple iPad 2 and other prizes will be given away, including tickets to the Tennessee Aquarium.

“It will be random, so the first person in line won’t necessarily get the iPad,” said Brandy Whaley, mall general manger.

The term Black Friday refers to when businesses go from losing money (in the red) to making money (in the black).

“Average” is how the National Retail Federation (NRF) predicts the holiday shopping season will turn out this year. While 2010 exceeded some analysts’ expectations, holiday retail sales for 2011 are expected to increase 2.8 percent to $465.6 billion, according to the NRF. That’s lower than the 5.2 percent increase retailers experienced last year, but it’s slightly higher than the 10-year average holiday sales increase of 2.6 percent.

“Retailers are optimistic that a combination of strong promotions and lean inventory levels will help them address consumer caution this holiday season,” said Matthew Shay, NRF president and CEO. “While businesses remain concerned over the viability of the economic recovery, there is no doubt that the retail industry is in a better position this year to handle consumer uncertainty than it was in 2008 and 2009.”

Here are operating hours for some of the larger retail stores in Dalton:

Today

• Kmart (Cleveland Highway and Walnut Avenue) will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tomorrow, store hours are 5 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday, 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.; and Sunday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

• Both Walmart Supercenters in Dalton (Shugart Road and Walnut Avenue) are open 24 hours every day of the year — except for Christmas Day.

Friday

• All stores at Dalton Outlet Shops are closed today but will be open by 7 a.m. on Friday. Saturday and Sunday, store hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

• Kohl’s is closed today, but will open at 12 a.m. Friday and remain open 24 hours. Saturday, the store will open at 6 a.m. and close at midnight while Sunday store hours are 8 a.m. to midnight.

• TJ Maxx is also taking the day off. The store will be open Friday and Saturday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

• Walnut Square Mall is closed today. All stores will reopen Friday by 4 a.m. and shopping will continue until 10 p.m. On Friday at midnight, Aeropostale, American Eagle, Deb and Pac Sun will open. At 1 a.m., Sbarro will open. Foot Locker follows at 2 a.m. Then at 3 a.m., both Belk Department stores, Bath and Bodyworks and Chick-fil-A open. On Saturday, mall hours will be from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., and on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Extended hours will continue through Christmas Eve.