November 23, 2014

Rough economy equals slowdown on Black Friday

By Tim Barnum
Staff writer
Posted

ARENAC COUNTY — With the economy teetering on the brink of collapse in the middle of a recession, retailers were expecting a decrease in sales during Black Friday, the number one shopping day in America, and locally, the anticipated slowdown lived up to expectations.

“It wasn’t what it used to be,” said Debbie Boensch, owner of treasures Forever in AuGres, a store that sells the sought-after children’s gift, Webkinz. “We cut way back on ordering. … We couldn’t stock up anymore this year.”

Liz Dzuiban, the owner of Little Joe’s Appliance and Computer in Standish, a Radio Shack dealer, said she did order extra, but is skeptical about how successful her store will be in selling the additional inventory.

“I would guess [we ordered] probably another 20 percent,” Dzuiban said. “This year I don’t think I’m going to move all of it. I think I’m going to have a lot left over.”

“It was definitely a softer day than usual,” said L’Dean Nichols, Standish Pamida Store Team Leader. “We were expecting it. … Our corporate headquarters had kind of addressed it.”

With the forewarning, Nichols said that the retailer’s employees decided not to order as much extra inventory as in past years, when he says the sales and traffic were noticeably higher than this year.

“We were not as full as we would be in a normal year because of the economic times,” Nichols said. “We had a period between 11 (a.m.) and 2 (p.m.) where it was as close to normal (for Black Friday) as it could be. … The morning and evening were slower for us (compared to last year).”

Dzuiban also said the drop in customers was obvious.

“I was down like 50 customers,” she said, adding last year a large mass of people started rolling in at 6 a.m. while this year the first customers, who didn’t come in a large group, didn’t arrive until 6:15 a.m. “I was scared that we weren’t going to have any business. Then it straightened out throughout the day.”

Fortunately for Little Joe’s, Dzuiban says her profits didn’t fall much even with the lower number of customers. She credits this to people capitalizing on the opportunity to buy new, large appliances at a lower than normal price.

“They (large appliances) moved about 15 percent better than last year,” Dzuiban said. “I was about even dollar-wise, which is pretty incredible.”

But even with the rough economic times, Dzuiban is confident things will turn around and that her numbers this year will be close to flat with last year’s.

“I think we’ll still do pretty well,” she said. “You have to stay optimistic.”

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