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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Black Friday helps some retailers, hurts others

By BILL WILSON
The Wichita Eagle

Black Friday was a record-setter nationally and for some Wichita retailers, according to reports.

But at the same time, other local retailers said they were hurt by the early openings of their national competitors.

The National Retail Federation reported over the weekend that a record 226 million shoppers visited stores and websites over Black Friday weekend, up 14 million from last year. The average shopper spent $398.62 last weekend, up from $365.34 last year. Total spending reached an estimated $52.4 billion.

The NRF reported that online shoppers spent an average of $150.53 on the web, 37.8 percent of online spending.

It was a great weekend for Gwen Ottenberg’s Imagine That Toys, its first in new space at 2939 N. Rock Road.

“I’m happy. Tired, but happy,” Ottenberg said Monday morning. “Friday was up 30 percent and Saturday was great, too.”

The news wasn’t so good from Ace Hardware in the Wichita Mall, where a manager said the store was hurt by large retailers who opened early.

“We didn’t do as well over the weekend as we did the last three years,” said Ron Long, store manager. Long said sales were down something short of 3 percent.

“It was a combination of things,” Long said. “The biggest part of it was so many of the stores opened the night before. I think that by the time we opened at 7, people were ready to go home.”

Nonetheless, Long said he’s not inclined to open earlier next year.

The NRF study indicates that the early openings worked, with 6.5 million more shoppers on the Thanksgiving Day streets.

Sales were up about 3 percent at the east-side Sports Time Fan Shop at 9747 E. 21st St. North.

“In years past, we’ve been really hammered with lots of customers at once,” said co-owner Tad Snarenberger. “Now, it’s just a steady, constant flow.”

The store, which focuses largely on sports apparel and memorabilia, got a boost from Sunday night’s game in Kansas City between the Chiefs and the Pittsburgh Steelers, Snarenberger said.

“A big part of Saturday was Steelers and Chiefs gear,” he said.

But overall, Snarenberger thinks the mood of the Wichita consumer has lightened in the wake of the recession.

“In years past, you got the feeling when people would walk in they had envelopes in their hands,” he said. “They were on a budget, and they wouldn’t spend more than they had. I didn’t see quite as much of that this year. People were more at ease, more out shopping.”

Reach Bill Wilson at 316-268-6290 or bwilson@wichitaeagle.com.

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