Local retailers anticipate a large crowd of holiday shoppers, despite an otherwise unstable economy.
The National Retail Federation forecasted holiday sales to increase 4.1 percent to $586.1 billion this year, despite mixed signals from the public.
While two-thirds of consumers responding to a recent NFR survey claim economic burdens will affect their holiday shopping plans, statistics show 147 million consumers plan on shopping this weekend – only a slight decrease from 152 million last year.
Bastrop RadioShack manager David Bridges said his store is predicting a more prosperous weekend than last year, with weekend sales projected at $7,000.
Sales last year at RadioShack on Black Friday were approximately $4,900, and Bridges said projected sales are $5,500, a slight increase.
“Last year we had around 85 vehicles in our parking lot,” Bridges said. “That is a good crowd for the area we have. People were parked on surrounding fields and all around the car wash.”
Bridges said a few hot items for sale at RadioShack include: Samsung Galaxy S III, Kindle Fire, iPhone 5, 32-inch televisions and Bluetooth devices for $13.
Hours of operation have been extended to accommodate the holiday shopping frenzy, and RadioShack has extended their weekend hours until 9:30 p.m. on Saturday and 7 p.m. on Sunday.
Many holiday shoppers plan on going another route to find deals. The NRF reported an increase of 18.4 percent consumers planning to shop online this year.
Fred's store manager Susanne Dean said her store has been preparing for this weekend for over a month and expects large numbers of consumers due to the low prices offered at Fred's.
“Our Tablet devices and DuraFlame electric fireplaces are some popular items in stock now,” Dean said. “We did well last year and are prepared to do just as well this year.”
Steele's outlet store manager, Alisha Neel, said last year her store did extremely well due to their grand opening, but hopes this year will be just as good.
“We carry a variety of things here like clothing, home décor, toys and shoes,” Neel said. “We are stocked and ready for a crowd.”
Neel said Steele's weekend hours of operation have been extended for shoppers until 9 p.m. on Saturday and 7 p.m. on Sunday.
“Our best sellers right now are our boots and toys,” she said. “People are getting a head start on Christmas this year.”