Jan Teague, president of the 2,800-member Washington Retail Association, said the association expects year-over-year sales increases in Washington to exceed the 4.1 percent uptick predicted nationwide.
Washington retailers have seen healthy sales increases thus far this year, and she expects the holiday season will continue that trend.
“The elections are behind us, and our local companies like Boeing seem to be doing well,” she said.
“Our merchants are stocked up and staffed up for the holidays,” she added.
The association’s membership includes merchants ranging from retail giants such as Macy’s, Target and Amazon to mom-and-pop stores with a single outlet.
Black Friday and Saturday sales figures likely will provide a good clue to how the whole holiday season will play out.
Black Friday, the Friday after Thanksgiving, has been the biggest retail sales day of the year since 2003 (with the exception of 2004 when it fell to second place) with Black Saturday, the day after Black Friday, ranking as the eighth-biggest retail sales day of the year.
As many as 152 million shoppers are expected to hit the malls, downtowns and shopping districts on Black Friday, a day off for many workers, said the National Retail Federation.
“Black Friday is the most significant retail day of the year,” Teague said.
Because of the way the calendar falls, the holiday shopping season is long this year, with five shopping weekends between Black Friday and Christmas. That extra length is expected to add to the retail sales totals.
Most major retailers are planning early openings – some of them even opening on Thanksgiving evening – to take advantage of the buying rush.
Outdoor outfitter Cabela’s, for instance, is opening its Lacey store at 5 a.m. The first 600 shoppers will be given a mystery envelope with a certificate for a prize inside. Those prizes include rifles, binoculars, camouflage clothing and gift certificates, the store said.
Other major retailers are offering limited quantities of bargain merchandise. Chief among those bargains are electronic items.
Though the big-box retailers tend to dominate the Black Friday sales, other smaller mall merchants are opening earlier than normal to take advantage of the crowds drawn to the mall, said a spokesman for the Tacoma Mall.
“It’s the biggest retail day of the whole year,” Tacoma Mall spokesman Matthew Robinson said. “Other stores want to take advantage of the synergies.”
Some smaller merchandisers won’t be trying to compete with the Black Friday hype. In Olympia’s downtown, for instance, merchants are waiting until the Sunday after Thanksgiving to launch their holiday season, said Connie Lorenz, Olympia Downtown Association executive director.
“Black Friday just isn’t a big event downtown,” she said. “We just don’t do $99 TVs.”
Instead, downtown Olympia is celebrating the season with its Downtown for the Holidays event beginning at noon Nov. 25.
That traditional celebration will include a Christmas parade, a singing Christmas tree, wagon rides, pictures with Santa and a tree lighting.
“Our Santa has been with us for 20 years,” said Lorenz. “He’s got a real beard, and he doesn’t need any padding.”
Target joins several other major retailers, including Walmart, that are opening earlier in the evening on Thanksgiving and offering steep discounts over the two-day period. Over the years, stores have been expanding their hours on Black Friday to get ahead of the competition, but the kickoff is increasingly happening right after shoppers finish their turkey feast. Here are some openings:
Walmart, Sears and Toys R Us: 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving
Target: 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving
Kohl's, Macy's and Best Buy: Midnight
John Gillie: 253-597-8663 john.gillie@ thenewstribune.com