Hooray! It’s Black Friday 2009!

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It is almost like the Friday after Thanksgiving has become a holiday in itself! Black Friday 2009, as it has come to be known, is usually a retailer’s dream day. But how will our struggling economy affect sales for this semi-recession year.I had a chance to sit down with a number of retail outlet employees in my area (southeastern New England) to see if I could gauge the mood of this year’s Christmas buying season. It was an enlightening experience and I’d like to report some of my findings.A couple of Sundays ago I spoke to Terry Bridgewater at one of the local area outlet stores (selling womens lingerie). While she was optimistic, she was also somewhat guarded. “I’ve noticed a slight drop off leading up to this month,” Terry said. “Our parent company realizes that people are spending less and that they are perhaps shopping more online to fight the high gas prices.”Chris Tucci of Hobbyville has a different view. “We’re a very specialized niche so we haven’t seen as big of a down turn in sales like some of the Big Box Stores have been reporting. We’re fortunate in that respect, I guess. Like everyone says though, the competition from the internet seems to be building. But we also have a strong web presence to I’m not too concerned.”That seems to one underlying theme in my research. Even the smaller stores are now offering an opportunity to be able to shop online. If people can save money by not driving and stores can still make sales, everyone wins.My personal feeling is that the future of the retailer’s business IS, in fact, by developing a strong internet presence. There are a number of online retailers that can easily out pace some of their brick and mortar competitors. With web hosting far cheaper than rent and property taxes this only makes sense. So regardless of how this recession might affect companies, it is clear that it is still the smart shopper that will ultimately decide whether Black Friday 2009 will be a lucrative one for retailers or not.Happy shopping!