Black Friday spending on track to surpass last year’s total

BY Brenda Flanagan, Senior Correspondent |

Black Friday still draws early birds who stuff their trunks, targeting specific sales at malls and outlets. One shopper, Hillside resident, Georgia Clark spent $2,000 in just three hours.

“I’m spending more this year,” said Westfield resident Betsy Ferguson. “I feel like the economy’s a little better.”

Another Westfield resident, Kathy Gulino says she got her start early in the morning, at five o’clock. “This is our annual trip to the outlets,” she said.

Consumers will drop on average about $550 this long Black Friday weekend, According to the International Council of Shopping Centers. Meanwhile, Adobe Analytics estimates that online revenues could surpass last year’s totals by 28 percent — noting TVs, laptops and clothing top shoppers’ lists.

With an armload of kids, one dad says his shopping will be digital.

“Just makes it easier. Get delivered. Don’t have to worry about it,” said Maplewood resident Emanuel Watson.

“I like to go actually deal with cashiers and the people working. It’s easier — I like to feel things in my hand, prior to purchasing,” said Hillside resident, Jarnel Williams.

One study showed 93 percent of shoppers will visit so-called omni-channel retailers that offer both online and storefront options.

“They want to have that presence in front of the customer. They want to be able to have the customer touch and feel the merchandise. And then you’ve got stores like our new Canada Goose store – went so far as to build an actual freezer room, where you can try on one of their coats and go into a sub-zero room to feel what that coat feels like in actual zero degree temperatures,” said Jamie Cox, the Mall at Short Hills’ general manager.

Millennial shoppers craving that experience actually lined up at Canada Goose to try on a down jacket … in a freezer.

“They also have the cold bar in there, so you can try it on and go into the cold bar. I think that’s kinda cool. Other stores don’t do that,” said Dobbs Ferry, New York resident, Ivan Miskovic.

Deloitte figures holiday shoppers will spend more than $1 trillion this season. But where they spend it bucks could make a big difference for stores that are struggling with debt or searching for relevance. That list includes Neiman Marcus, JC Penney and Sears.

“Sears has been looking at how they can solve their problems. I think that any retailer goes through that. It’s a business decision they have to make,” according to Stephanie Gegielski, vice president for public relations of the International Council of Shopping Centers.

Most analysts predict a banner season for the stores that can hit consumers’ sweet spot.