VALDOSTA -- Once a year, sleepy men and women rise before the sun to camp out in front of their favorite stores waiting, sometimes not so patiently. When the clock strikes the right time, these anxious shoppers give new meaning to the term "door busters" as they race up and down aisles to find the best sales.
Retail stores are well aware of the ritual and most prepare months in advance for the after-Thanksgiving weekend shoppers in order to keep order while giving customers the incredible sales they expect.
Best Buy managers have been planning since early October, hiring 18 seasonal associates to help serve customers, stocking inventory and slashing prices. To help appease the waiting customers, local vendors will most likely be selling coffee and snacks. Santa may even make an appearance for children who are shopping with their parents.
"We had close to 400 people last year, just in the morning. I'm expecting the same large crowd and to have people waiting for our 6 a.m. opening," Vasef Sajid of Best Buy said.
He expects the inexpensive computers to drive a good portion of traffic and explained that his store puts a great deal of effort into planning for the holidays because 40 percent of the store's annual revenue comes from that shopping period.
Tim Barrett of Belk expects a crowd at Belk Department Store when it opens at 5 a.m. Friday morning.
"We picked up over 20,000 square feet, increased inventory by more than 25 percent and tried out new brands," he said. "Because of that and the over 133 Early Bird Specials Friday morning, we are expecting a 20 percent increase at least."
The "door-busting" early bird specials will last until noon on Friday. However, many sales will continue throughout the day and the weekend.
More than 30 tables of popular Belk Gifts To Go will be available at prices ranging from $9.99 to $24.99. Barrett said the complementary gift box and bow look great this year as well.
Belk has hired extra sales associates and plans to be fully staffed on Friday so that every customer experiences the highest quality customer service.
"We don't usually have a lot of security problems, but we plan to be fully staffed and prepared," Barrett said.
Belk and Best Buy are popular spots for Christmas gift shopping, however other retail chains are busy selling Christmas decor.
Corbin Neeley of Lowe's Home Improvement said his store has increased the staff in key departments like its "Trim a Tree" section. Of course, sales on tools, appliances and much more will help customers looking for gifts too.
Expecting more traffic than last year, Neeley said the outlook is pretty good. Hours for Lowe's will remain the same, so shoppers can enter the store at 6 a.m.
New to the Valdosta retail scene, Lauren Lineberger of Classy Bags and Gift Shoppe is very excited about her store's first holiday season.
"The store is so cute," she said. "You just have to see it."
Classy Bags inventory has increased and special sales will be applied to many handbags, accessories and children's items. Ornaments and quick gifts will be sold for as little as $5, but she expects the most popular item to be the fleece blankets that will sell for $9.50 including monogramming.
Lineberger and other local retailers are not the only ones expecting a good holiday sales profit. The National Retail Federation (NRF) expects holiday sales to grow by five percent from last year with jewelry and department stores profiting the most.
Many of these sales may take place online, according to the NRF who forecasts a 22 percent increase in Internet sales up to $172.4 billion.
While online shopping is more convenient, an overwhelming number of people still choose to follow tradition. "No-rest" assured, retailers can expect a flood of anxious in-store shoppers at a steady flow this Friday.
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