By Christine Lippincott
San Diegans show up to the Fashion Valley mall before sunrise in hopes of finding great holiday deals.
Annual Black Friday shopper Megan Sevy knows how to spot a great deal.
“This is my third year shopping during Black Friday. I always go to the specialty stores first because they give better percents off,” said Sevy.
But Sevy said she held back on her spending this year and she’s not alone. While many consumers reported spending less, they still showed up to the malls in big numbers. One shopper said she waited 35 minutes to get a parking spot at the Fashion Valley mall.
Another shopper, Daryl Manese, said he noticed that stores were offering better deals this year. He attributes those added bargains to people not having as much spending money, but they still had the desire to shop.
“I usually buy all new clothes for winter during Black Friday but this year I looked through my closet to try and find things I could use again,” said Daryl Manese.
Manese was especially surprised at Banana Republic’s deals, which included 40 percent discounts on outerwear, jewelry and handbags.
Banana Republic sales associate Nikki Cohen said she thinks that is why Banana Republic stayed busy throughout the day.
“People were saying, ‘well 40 percent off I might as well get it,’” said Cohen.
“It looks like we’ll make almost the same revenue this year which is good considering the economy,” added Cohen.
Manese had a unique strategy for shopping for friends and family.
“I tried to find the bundled things that were on sale. I’m going to mix and match the different items to create gift baskets for everyone,” said Manese.
His planned gift baskets included samples of lotions and body sprays from Bath and Body Works, candles, jewelry and gifts to keep his friends warm like scarves and gloves.
But some consumers were conflicted while shopping on Black Friday. Despite the less than optimistic state of the economy, Kathy Madia left the mall with arms full of bags from Geppetto’s, Gymboree and Abercrombie. This was her first shopping experience on Black Friday.
“I’ve always thought the people who shopped on Black Friday were insane. I came to the mall to try and get as many things for my kids while spending as little as possible,” said Madia.
Madia also created a budget for each family member and stuck to it. She said she cut her budget by nearly half from last year.
“It definitely paid off,” Madia added.
What many shoppers bought also changed this year. The number of DVD-players sold was 147 percent higher than last year, and games and puzzles increased 151 percent, according to Pricegrabber.com. Nine out of 10 of the most popular items were related to home entertainment. This year’s Black Friday could be a sign that consumers plan on buying presents to be used at home.
Despite most shoppers using discretion while making purchases, many store employees in the Fashion Valley mall were optimistic about having a profitable Black Friday weekend. Cohen is optimistic that San Diegans will continue to shop throughout the holiday season.