Black Friday weekend shopping

Several St. Joseph merchants — including those at East Hills Shopping Center — on Sunday reported a good start to their holiday shopping season, based on customer sales over Black Friday weekend.

It’s all systems go for local merchants preparing for the next four weeks of Christmas shopping.

That’s the assessment of several St. Joseph businesses checked Sunday afternoon by News-Press NOW. Black Friday is the traditional start of holiday purchases, with the specials now typically lasting throughout the entire weekend. Two stores at East Hills Shopping Center were illustrative of positive trends in consumerism.

Crystal Bowers, human resource supervisor at J.C. Penney, said the store has been “busy. A little busier than last year. It kind of slowed down a little last year.”

Bowers said Friday night was “crazy” at J.C. Penney, with customers seeking out the best bargains to place under the Christmas tree. She referred to advertising that helped the store attain such lofty sales over the extended weekend.

The department store at one point was open for a 30-hour stretch, she added. Weather had some impact, but not anything that perpetually deterred customers from coming through the front doors to scan and act on many of the specials they discovered inside.

“It’s been a good year,” said Bowers of comparisons to 2018. “Traffic’s been up” prior to Thanksgiving, she said.

Earbuds sold like hotcakes at first.

“They disappeared within the first hour and 1 1/2 hours,” she said.

Despite the shorter calendar this year between Thanksgiving and Christmas, J.C. Penney’s is confident that sales will wind up on the plus side.

“I think it’ll make it a little busier,” Bowers said.

Nearby at Gordman’s, Department Specialist Sean Reynolds said Christmas decorations were among the items selling well so far.

“We’ve sold really well on our toys,” Reynolds said. “Gift cards have sold really well.”

Over at Best Buy, at the Shoppes at North Village, sales were also noticeably brisk.

“It’s going very well,” said Best Buy Store Manager Louis Nunnelly. “Customers are excited. It’s been a great week.”

Smart home technology and televisions were among the retailer’s major sellers, said Nunnelly.

Ray Scherer can be reached

at ray.scherer@newspressnow.com.

Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPScherer.