Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year and from Scottsdale to Ahwatukee, Phoenix to east Mesa and Gilbert, malls and retail centers are putting their best foot forward to get shoppers in the door.
That also puts extra pressure on local police, who are planning to deploy extra resources to retail destinations during the post-Thanksgiving buying rush.
Analysts have predicted a rosy sales season for retailers, with the National Retail Federation predicting up to a 4.8 percent bump in sales during the holiday season.
One driver of that bump could be toy sales as retailers jump to fill the vacancy left by the Toys R’ Us bankruptcy, according to CBRE’s 2018 U.S. Retail Holiday Trends Guide.
The guide shows that retailers like Target and Walmart are expanding their toy selection to fill the void, so shoppers should watch out for Black Friday deals from those two mega stores as they compete for the $1.3 billion in annual toy sales Toys R’ Us left behind.
That accounted for about five percent of the total toy market.
The big brands aren’t the only stores that will benefit from Black Friday, though.
A report by Womply, which provides software solutions for small businesses, showed that Black Friday was the number one sales day for small businesses in Arizona.
The report, compiled by analyzing transactions from 54,000 businesses in the state, showed that small, independent retailers saw a 74 percent sales bump over the average day on Black Friday in 2017.
That suggests local retailers like Zoolikins in Scottsdale may also benefit from Toys R’ Us’ demise.
Still, Black Friday will always be a major boon for the big brands that can afford to offer steep discounts to consumers, and stores within Arizona malls are putting major sales to bring in buyers.
Build-A-Bear workshops at Fashion Square and Chandler Fashion Center are offering buy one, get one for $6 and other $6 specials, and Abercrombie Kids at Scottsdale Fashion Square is offerings sales on flip sequins hoodies and sweatshirts.
Claire’s, the jewelry and accessory retailer with locations at Scottsdale Fashion Square, Chandler Fashion Center, Arizona Mills and SanTan Village, is offering 50 percent off “almost everything,” according to its Black Friday ad.
Macy’s, which has stores in Scottsdale, Chandler, Gilbert and Mesa, is having a large Black Friday sale that includes 30 to 50 percent off women’s clothes, 50 to 60 percent off men’s shoes and mail-in rebates on kitchen items.
Scottsdale Fashion Square and Chandler Fashion Center both have Microsoft Stores. The computer retailer is offering several Black Friday deals, including up to $300 off select Surface Laptop 2 computers and $200 off select HP and Dell laptops.
Stores like Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Express, Bath & Body Works, H&M and Lululemon will also have Black Friday deals but had not announced the specifics as of print time.
Though most sales have not been announced yet, shoppers can find the latest information on sales at Scottsdale Fashion Square and Chandler Fashion Center at fashionsquare.com/Sales and http.shopchandlerfashioncenter.com/Sales.
Beyond the traditional Black Friday sales, the malls are also providing other amenities for shoppers.
At both Fashion Square and Kierland Commons, Kitchen outfitter Sur la Table is offering a two-hour kids’ cooking class, so parents can shop child-free. The class costs $45 and can be booked at surlatable.com.
Scottsdale Fashion Square will provide live entertainment during peak hours, and both Scottsdale Fashion Square and Chandler Fashion Center will feature a Santa HQ presented by HGTV.
The Santa exhibit will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Black Friday and be quite a bit more elaborate than the Santa photo setups of old.
While children – and pets in Chandler – can get their photos taken with Santa, the Santa HQ also features augmented reality “Magic Mirrors” that let children see themselves transformed into elves. The HQ will also let children make their own Elf ID cards through an app and try a naughty or nice meter.
Both malls will also have extended hours and will be open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Black Friday. The Macy’s at Scottsdale Fashion Square will be open from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day.
With the glut of shoppers expected at locales throughout the Valley this year, both mall operators and public safety officials are taking extra steps to avoid safety issues.
“The safety of our guests and retailers is a top priority, and we strive to maintain a safe, enjoyable shopping environment at all of our centers,” read a statement from Macerich, operator of both Scottsdale Fashion Square and Chandler Fashion Center.
Macerich did not disclose specifics of its safety plan.
“However, we can tell you we have a thorough security program in place at all of our centers and we work closely with our local law enforcement agencies to address specific issues related to customers’ safety,” the statement read.
Scottsdale Police Department will have an increased presence during Black Friday weekend at popular shopping destinations, including Scottsdale Fashion Square and Scottsdale Quarter, said department spokesman Officer Kevin Watts.
Watts also stressed that shoppers need to take steps to ensure their own safety, including avoiding shopping alone at night and being aware of your surroundings.
Watts said shoppers should avoid texting while walking to and from their vehicle and have their car keys out before they leave a store.
Chandler Police spokesman Detective Seth Tyler said that shoppers should always park in lighted areas and make sure to secure their vehicles.
Both Tyler and Watts said that shoppers should never leave valuable items in visible locations in a vehicle, with Tyler stressing that if purchased items must be left in a vehicle, shoppers should secure them in the trunk.
The CBRE report found that “omnichannel strategies” are starting to make it difficult to differentiate between in-store and online sales growth.
In turn, that “poses challenges for landlords, who rely on in-store sales reporting to set rents and measure tenant health.”
This holiday season, it said, retailers are recognizing “the value that online brings to store traffic and the benefit of brick-and-mortar to online purchases.”
Two new strategies are buy-online/pickup-in-store and the even more advanced strategy of buy-online/ship-to-store.
“This advanced program entails shipping items to stores that are not regularly stocked there,” the study notes, saying Macy’s, Michaels and Kohl’s have announced so-called BOSS programs.
“Kohl’s is currently rolling out this more robust program in 20 stores, with expectations to expand it into all of its stores within the next few months,” CBRE said.
Meanwhile, craft retailer Michaels foresees its BOPS and BOSS programs accounting for almost half of its online sales this holiday season, CBRE said, noting “delivery to customers’ doorsteps has been costly and complex.”
“With the newly advanced BOSS program that entices shoppers to retrieve items from the store, retailers can both forego delivery costs and offer more inventory without having to stock it at the store,” the report said.
Kohl’s generated as much as 25 percent in additional in-store “attachment sales” from its BOPS and BOSS programs, so it “is incentivizing shoppers to pick up their online orders in-store by offering $5 in ‘Kohl’s Cash’ through an initiative called ‘Smart Cart.’”
The report also noted that retailers this shopping season will find their various sales channels “more interconnected than ever.”
“As a result, many retailers likely will utilize both the BOPS and BOSS programs to lower delivery costs and increase in-store attachment sales, while ultimately providing a seamless in-store customer experience,” it said.
CBRE also reported that retailers “are beginning to get creative in how they retain their customer base.”
“With so many options, consumers expect to be rewarded for their brand loyalty,” it added, predicting “retailers will roll out new and revamped loyalty programs this holiday season.”
Major chains such as Macy’s, Kohl’s, Target, Sephora, Nordstrom and Victoria’s Secret have already upgraded their loyalty programs.
And it won’t be long before major retailers start “members clubs” that “will play an important role in fulfilling customers’ increased expectations for loyalty rewards.”
“With this year’s holiday season being the longest in six years, holiday sales should well exceed last year’s $692 billion, and retailers will compete harder than ever before to retain customers through new and revamped loyalty programs,” the report added.