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Will frugality go out the window on Black Friday?

Posted: November 24, 2011 - 1:09am

Merchants are hoping shoppers make merry this holiday season — starting with the biggest shopping day of the year, Friday.

Southeast Furniture Warehouse, Inc., located in Lemon Creek, plans to hold a “Gobble up this deal” event on Friday. Warehouse sales associate Jack Lewis said the store plans to hang orange tags designating special Gobble Up deals, and store president Chris Jensen will “take his marker all around the warehouse marking down prices,” Lewis said.

Lewis said he anticipated a good holiday shopping season at the Warehouse.

Rachel Tiffer, manager at Radio Shack in the Nugget Mall, said she is optimistic about sales on Friday. The store transformed over the last few years, Tiffer said, and now has more advertised inventory in stock than in years past.

Tiffer said she will open her shop at 6 a.m. this Friday, hours earlier than usual.

“We’re having a sale Friday and Saturday. Cell phones, GPS, cameras and a bunch of gaming consoles,” Tiffer said.

As previously reported in the Empire, Ameriprise Financial Senior Economist Russell Price said U.S. consumers are reaching a kind of austerity exhaustion, they are tired of savings and paying down debt, and tired of basic frugality. He also said that consumer spending in some sectors, like cars, is up at the same time as consumer confidence is down. Price said this is because many people have been able to get their financial houses in order, they have paid down debt and feel more confident about their own future. But at the same time they “think their neighbor is an idiot,” Price said. So consumer confidence reports might not exactly convey how consumers feel about spending money.

Price also said on average, U.S. citizens are paying less for car payments, rent or house payments and credit cards as a percentage of their income. This frees up more cash for holiday shopping.

The National Retail Federation projects 2011 holiday sales will rise 2.8 percent from 2010. A recent Gallup poll estimated 3 to 4 percent growth. Gallup found Americans plan to spend an average of $764 on Christmas gifts this year — $50 more than last year, but $100 less than the peak before the recession.

“Americans have marginally greater Christmas gift-buying intentions today than they did a month ago and a year ago,” according to Gallup.

However, Gallup warns consumer psychology is “extremely fragile” and therefore spending is “susceptible to unemployment reports, gyrations on Wall Street and news about the government’s fiscal health.”

With an unemployment rate nearly 4 percent below the national average and a healthy housing market, Juneau shoppers may already be spending more than their Lower 48 peers.

Will forecasts of snow dampen Juneau shopper’s holiday spirit?

A man overheard at the Nugget Mall said, “Juneau people will come out, whether it’s a dog sled or a toboggan.”

• Contact reporter Russell Stigall at 523-2276 or at russell.stigall@juneauempire.com.

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