Updated 4:46 pm, Friday, November 25, 2016
Along southwestern Connecticut’s busy retail strips on Black Friday, retailers reported a mixed bag of results in the morning hours but expressed confidence that they would have all the business they could handle by the late afternoon and evening hours.
As of 1 p.m. at the Groove clothing and gift store at 420 Westport Ave. on the Westport-Norwalk border, a steady stream of shoppers were coming through to take advantage of a one-day sale at 20 percent off, with owner Corri Neckritz having expanded into bigger quarters just this year and in the process of opening a second shop by next March in New Canaan on Elm Street.
“I think we’ll easily beat last year,” Neckritz said on Friday afternoon, squeezing in a moment between helping customers and fielding phone calls with vendors to order additional inventory. “Things are good — we’re busy.”
In Norwalk’s upscale Rowayton Avenue retail district, childhood friends Zoe Hamann and Lauryn Soden chose less than two weeks in advance of Black Friday as the date to open their first brick-and-mortar store in The Shop, selling gifts, home goods and clothing after getting their start this past summer with a booth at the Rowayton Farmer’s Market selling their own Stems + Co. brand of merchandise, including hand-crafted candles.
“We’re definitely aware of the timing — we made it happen to open for the holidays,” Soden said. “We’re definitely very hopeful for this holiday season ... So far we’ve really seen a lot of traffic and people are receiving it well. We have high hopes.”
While many local retailers do not rely heavily on turnout this weekend, the three-day period remains a retail bonanza on a national level. Some 59 percent of Americans — an estimated 137.4 million people — were planning to or considering shopping during Thanksgiving weekend, according to a survey released earlier this month by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics, including online. In comparison, some 59 percent, or 135.8 million people, shopped during the same period last year.
But Black Friday remains the busiest day of the holiday weekend with 74 percent of NRF survey participants planning to shop that day. At Danbury Fair, parking was at a premium early Friday morning as shoppers hoofed it to the mall from the outer spaces and auxiliary lots. The mall opened at 6 a.m. Friday, following a busy start to the shopping weekend on the evening of Thanksgiving.
“The mall was very busy on Thursday, typical of what you’d expect on Black Friday with door-buster deals,” Melissa Eigen, marketing manager for Danbury Fair, said. “You walk through the mall and you see lots of families and lots of bags. It’s an event.”
Back in Norwalk, at one national apparel chain outlet a store manager who did not wish to be identified by name said her store had been busy since the crack of dawn and expected that to stay the case through extended hours into the night — and needless to say, she had no complaints.
“Still in my pajamas,” she smiled, gesturing at her own garb.
— Includes reporting by Paul Schott and Kevin Schultz.
Alex.Soule@scni.com; 203-354-1047; www.twitter.com/casoulman