More of a grayish Friday

Published 12:49 am Saturday, November 29, 2008

Shoppers were out in Suffolk for Black Friday, but not necessarily in full force.

Managers of some of the city’s retail stores reported that while they maintained a steady flow of customers Friday, sales volume did not meet the numbers from last year.

“We did have a good amount of people,” said Tonya Faison, manager of the Belk store on Main Street. “But they didn’t buy quite as much as we’re used to seeing. But it was still good traffic. I think people are just being a little more careful on what they’re spending.”

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Similarly, Connie Dunn, manager of the Hallmark store in downtown Suffolk, said business had been steady, despite having to open later because of a power outage Friday morning.

“It’s been going well,” she said. “We’re probably at the half-way point of where we were last year, and we will be open for four more hours. I think people have been going to get their big-ticket items first, then remembering they needed to swing by and pick up a card or a Christmas ornament.”

Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving. It gets its name because so many shoppers are out looking for bargains, stores make big profits — or go “into the black” for the year.

With the recent economic downturn, however, it’s yet to be seen how much of an impact these Black Friday shoppers will have on retail sales.

Ruth DiGeorge, owner of A Tisket, A Tasket, in North Suffolk said her Black Friday was down from last year, but the store had been surprisingly ahead of overall sales for the year.

“I think all the sales drew people to those kind-of big box stores this time,” DiGeorge said.

While shoppers may have been in the bigger name stores, an overall slower Black Friday does not bode well for future spending, according to reports.

The Associated Press recently reported that even though Black Friday is not a predictor of holiday sales, it’s an “important barometer of people’s willingness to spend for the rest of the holiday season.”

But Suffolk’s retailers are optimistic.

DiGeorge added she had many customers throughout the day, but they were just more cautious this year while doing their shopping.

“I think a lot of people last year, they bought immediately,” she said. “This year, it was more, ‘I’ll be back to do my shopping.’ They’re just waiting a little.”