Shoppers swarm stores in last-minute pursuits

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Wal-Mart shoppers try to get a head start at 6:30 a.m. Saturday morning at the Douglas store.

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Wal-Mart shoppers try to get a head start at 6:30 a.m. Saturday morning at the Douglas store.

You've probably heard the day after Thanksgiving is "the busiest shopping day of the year." You've heard wrong.

According to the International Council of Shopping Centers, the top shopping day every year since 1995 has been the Saturday before Christmas.

There weren't many "doorbusters" waiting at dawn for early-bird access in Carson City, but shoppers were out in droves Saturday.

All 37 checkout stands at the Wal-Mart in Douglas County were open, with customers lined up at each. Managers at the store refused to comment on business, but a company spokesperson in Bentonville, Ark., said it was a big day.

"All the store managers I have talked to today have said it was really busy in their stores," said Christi Gallagher. "Obviously the weekends leading up to the holidays are big weekends."

Business was also good at the Carson Valley Target Store.

"We have been slammed," said Gretchen Williams, executive team leader of guest service. "We had a sales expectation and we definitely exceeded that expectation - but we did on the day after Thanksgiving, too."

According to a recent U.S. Census report, retail stores saw a 47 percent jump in business from November to December 2002. No other month-to-month increase in department store sales came near that, the report states.

December is good for other stores, too: Jewelry stores saw a 163 percent jump and book stores 87 percent from November to December 2002, according to the report.

Both November and December are important to the Carson City Gottschalk's store.

"If you combine November and December it's about 30 percent of our year," said Susan St. Marie, store manager. "December is about three times a normal month."

In another blow to the "day after Thanksgiving" myth, she said Gottschalk's sees more business on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. The store offers specials for customers ages 55 and older on Tuesdays, she explained, including two complimentary gift wraps and a 10 percent discount. The store, located in the Carson Mall, also offers UPS shipping so customers don't have to take their boxes to the U.S. Post Office.

Much of the mall was crowded Saturday.

"We've been really busy," said Shannon Crates, a worthy associate with the Rainbow Girls. She and her club are wrapping newly bought presents to raise funds. They started Monday and will wrap from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily until noon on Christmas Eve.

Contact Karl Horeis at or 881-1219.


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