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Black Friday retail boost expected

The National Retail Federation (NRF) predicts holiday spending this year will be up 2.3 percent, as the percentage of people who said the economy would affect their spending decreased from 65.3 percent last year to 61.7 percent this year. So is it a reason for hope about the state of the economy?

Dr. Russ Henley, an Associate Professor of Marketing in the College of Business Administration at the University of West Alabama thinks so.

“Both consumers and retailers are becoming cautiously optimistic about the economy. The results of the NFR study reflects this optimism,” he said. “This is good news for our local economies, consumers, and area businesses. However, consumers this year are clearly value driven and local and national retail advertising are reflecting this.”

Expectations are that core needs will likely see the highest demand but Henley noted a few “luxury items” will also be in high demand.

“Clothing, an everyday need, should have strong sales. However, and more interestingly, electronic sales should be very strong this year indicating that consumers are willing to spend for what are considered to be “small luxuries,” he said. “This is certainly good news for our local economy.

Most likely, the biggest hurdle local retailers will face on Black Friday is that much of the attention of potential shoppers will be split with another significant event in Alabama.

“Alabama retail sales are unique in that the Iron Bowl and Black Friday are on the same day. Retailers are aware that the entire State of Alabama practically grinds to a halt during the game as fans are watching and pulling for their team,” Henley said.

To combat the Tigers and Crimson Tide, many local businesses have extended their sales deeper into the holiday season, which Henley says would help create the perfect storm of better sales this season.

“Overall, area retail holiday sales are expected to be much stronger than they have been for the past two years.”