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Electronics continue to dominate shopping lists

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Experts estimate a slow down on year’s biggest shopping day

By Todd Martin

Millions of people nationwide are expected to venture out before the sun rises for the holiday ritual of bargain prices on everything from toys to TVs and tablets, but this year experts aren't quite so bullish on the unofficial kickoff to the holiday season.

According to the National Retail Federation, 140 million shoppers were expected to hit the stores between Thursday and Sunday, but that’s a decrease from 147 million who planned to shop last year. The actual number of shoppers will be released on Sunday.

This is the first year that the survey asked if shoppers would hit the stores starting on Thanksgiving, and nearly a quarter, about 33 million shoppers, said yes. As usual today, the survey notes, will be the biggest shopping day of the weekend with about 97 million shoppers planning to shop on Black Friday, and additional 61 million on Sunday.

In Shelby County, that means shoppers would be hitting Walmart, Goody’s, Kroger Marketplace, Rural King and Sears will be welcoming the early birds.

“We’re really expecting a big turnout,” said George Mahin, store manager at Sears in Governor’s Square. “We’ve had customers coming in all week scouting out items and checking our hours.”

Managers at Rural King noted sales on heaters, clothing, hunting equipment and even furniture throughout the weekend. And the ad for Goody’s notes sales on everything from clothing to jewelry and accessories.

 

Throwback items

For children, old is becoming new again, with big marketing pushes returning for Matchbox Cars racing sets and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ climbing back out of the 1990s sewer and onto kids' Santa lists.

And Furby, another 1990s throwback that reappeared last year, is another big item for 2013. The electronic robotic toy with owl-like eyes is back on Walmart’s list again after reappearing with a bang last year.

“The Furby came back last year, and I think it’s going to be a big one again this year,” said David Woodcock, manager of the Shelbyville Walmart store. “We have a big sale going on them again this year.”

Woodcock also noted that the Doc McStuffins, a doll based on the Disney show, is going to be a hot commodity.

“I think it’s going to be really popular,” he said.

Elmo has also returned, but this time that Sesame Street stalwart is handing out hugs instead of giggles as Big Hugs Elmo has landed on both the Walmart Chosen By Kids and the Toys ‘R Us Fabulous 15 lists.

Also on both lists are the LEGO Legends of Chima sets.

Straddling the line between toy and home entertainment centers are the new X-Box One and Play Station 4s.

 

Big-ticket items

Both of the new gaming systems will be red hot for this holiday season with Walmart and Best Buy offering deals on both for early shoppers.

Tablet computers, including the new Apple iPad Air and the new mini iPad, continue to be must have items for children and adults, but experts say shoppers can expect bigger discounts on Samsung, Asus Amazon Kindle and Google products than the Apple originals.

Laptops, LCD and LED TVs dominate the ads from Best Buy, Walmart, Target and similar companies again this year.

Woodcock noted several big sales from Thursday and into Friday on LCD TVs and tablets.

And starting at 8 a.m. today, he said the store would move into a service-driven mode.

“We’ll have the new iPhone 5cs for $49 with a new contract, and that comes with a seventy-five dollar gift card. We’ll also have a lot of deals on Samsungs and other phones.

“That’s just part of the kind of service oriented field we’ll be focused on Friday. We also will have big sales on Goodyear tires, ranging from forty-nine to one hundred and nineteen dollars, that’s between forty and fifty-five percent off.”

Even Goody’s, which largely focuses on fashion and accessories, looks to cash in on a electronics trade by offering a 7-inch tablet and digital cameras.

And Mahin noted that appliances would feature some of the lowest prices of the year.

“We’re going to have some really good appliance specials,” he said. “I think those are going to be really good sellers. They’re going to have some of the biggest sale prices you’ll see this year, with some as much as forty to fifty percent off.”