Businesses profit on ‘Black Friday’

Amy Poppinga

Amy Poppinga

Black Friday-the day after Thanksgiving-is traditionally one of the busiest shopping days of the year. This year was not any different, as consumers both locally and nationwide battled congested stores in search of bargains.

According to the National Retail Federation’s Web site, 147 million shoppers-a 4.8 percent increase from last year-swarmed stores nationwide during the holiday weekend.

Area businesses also received a boost from day after Thanksgiving sales. Cover to Cover, a business located in downtown Brookings, had double the sales of a normal day, according to Manager Emily Erz. Despite being open only the regular business hours, the store was able to make over $2,000, compared to the $800 made on a typical Friday.

Although the store was a little more crowded than usual, Erz and fellow employee Holly Tilton, a fourth year religion and philosophy major, thought the atmosphere was not chaotic. “It was a busier store, and there were more people, but we didn’t feel overwhelmed,” Tilton said.

Across town, Wal-Mart also fared well. Store Manager Dennis Tramp said that business was better than expected for both the Brookings Wal-Mart and the company as a whole. Tramp estimated that sales in Brookings were probably 30 to 40 percent better on Black Friday than on an average day.

As for the customers, bargain hunters had already arrived at 3:30 a.m. when Tramp began his shift, and several hundred people were waiting when the sales began at 5 a.m. Since Wal-Mart is open 24 hours, shoppers were allowed inside the store instead of waiting outside in lines, but they could not take or purchase any of the the big-ticket items until the sale officially started.

To accommodate these increased sales and customers, all available employees worked on the day after Thanksgiving. This allowed all the registers to be open at 5 a.m., which helped cut down on checkout times.

All in all, Tramp felt Black Friday was a “very good day.” He said: “It’s a fun day. The day goes fast, and it’s fun to see people get the items they want.”

Ted Walnofer, the store manager of the Wal-Mart located on Louise Avenue in Sioux Falls, would probably agree with that statement. He described the day after Thanksgiving-which was the best sales day ever for Walnofer’s Wal-Mart-as “fantastic” and “an excellent day for Wal-Mart.”

Walnofer had many reasons to be excited about Black Friday-$931,000 reasons, to be exact. He estimated that this sales total put Walnofer’s Wal-Mart into the top one percent for sales in the entire company, and it was probably triple the sales of a normal business day and double what the Brookings Wal-Mart probably made.

The crowds also arrived earlier and were significantly larger in Sioux Falls than in Brookings. The earliest customers were those waiting for a 42-inch plasma television. Walnofer said people began lining up at 9 or 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day in order to secure one of these televisions.

People started arriving steadily after 2 a.m., and about 300 people were probably already in the store at this time. By 4 a.m., around 1,000 people filled the aisles, and by 5 a.m., 3,000 to 4,000 shoppers began their bargain hunting.

These large crowds did not damper Walnofer’s spirit, though. “It’s a really high-spirited and high-morale day,” he said. “The customers and employees are pumped up. It’s one of the more exciting days of the year.”