Tuesday, March 11, 2014
(Continued from page 1)
Shoppers stroll the corridors of the Maine Mall on Tuesday, beating Black Friday crowds and taking advantage of the fact that retailers are holding sales earlier in the season, including events tied to Veterans Day.
Susan Perkins of Fairfield says she likes shopping at the Maine Mall when the crowds are smaller. “There’s already great sales,” she said Tuesday.
Photos by Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer
Sales for some items are expected to be brisk, even among cautious shoppers.
The hottest toys this year include LeapFrog Enterprises' $99.99 LeapPad 2 Explorer tablet, MGA Entertainment's Lalaloopsy dolls, Mattel's Monster High Ghouls Rule dolls and Mega Brands' Mega Bloks Skylanders construction sets, according to TimetoPlayMag.com.
Also likely to sell well are flat-screen televisions, such as the 32-inch Emerson for $148 at Walmart, and other electronics such as Apple's iPad.
Analysts also expect luxury brands to sell well.
"Last year, we saw a return to more higher-end purchases and more luxury brands. During the recession, that had disappeared," Picard said. "We're seeing the economy improving baby step by baby step."
Stores have put more emphasis on layaway plans this year, and have increased their use of technology to keep shoppers aware of deals through Facebook, Twitter, blogs and online advertising.
The days of waiting for sales promotions in the daily newspaper on Black Friday are over, as retailers telegraph weeks in advance what their holiday promotions will be, analysts said.
"It's critical for retail companies to constantly evolve as consumers do, and right now shoppers want great deals, good value, and convenience -- exactly what we're seeing with this season's late and early openings, price-matching, layaway, and mobile offerings," said National Retail Federation President and CEO Matthew Shay.
Layaway has played a bigger role in retailers' holiday strategies, with Walmart cutting its layaway fee from $15 to $5 to compete with rivals that offer lower-priced layaway plans.
Toys R Us waived its layaway fee on purchases made by Oct. 31, and Kmart cut its layaway service fee from Sept. 7 to Nov. 17.
Even with the slowly improving economy, shoppers are paring their lists and checking prices.
"You can't buy gifts for everyone," said Perkins, from Fairfield. "Each year, the list gets a little smaller. Just family."
Staff Writer Jessica Hall can be contacted at 791-6316 or at:
click image to enlarge
LeapFrog Enterprises’ LeapPad 2 Explorer tablet is one of this year’s hottest selling toys. It retails for $99.99.