The day after: Southwest Florida shoppers enjoy a day without the ‘mob’

— One of the biggest shopping days of the year came and went.

But for shoppers trying to stretch their dollars, the Christmas shopping continued Saturday — just without the crowds getting in their way.

“I just didn’t want to be in that mob yesterday (Friday),” said East Naples resident Nancy Kerchenfaut, 62, while packing her car outside of the Naples Kmart on Saturday.

Kerchenfaut said she was glad she decided to shop Saturday because she was in-and-out of the store with no delays.

And with only two items left pending on her “To get” list, Kerchenfaut said she’d try to get the last two items before the end of the day.

Kerchenfaut said she had done the majority of her gift shopping prior to the furor of Black Friday and had gotten some pretty good deals.

With the thick Friday crowds thinned by Saturday, lots of shoppers buzzed through Coastland Center mall Saturday in search of sales and items that could make great holiday gifts.

“We came yesterday (Friday) and just shopped around,” said Golden Gate resident Michael Ornelas, Jr., 22, as he arrived at the mall with his cousins, Nick, 14, and Joe, 9, who were itching to spend some birthday money. “Today we’re just trying to get out of the house and see what they have going.”

Ornelas said he still was looking for a good deal on a laptop and a big screen TV — the two big-ticket items that he couldn’t get Friday.

ShopperTrak RCT Corp., a Chicago research firm that tracks sales at more than 50,000 stores, says shoppers spent only slightly more in stores this Black Friday than they did last year.

In addition, fresh signs of much stronger online sales during the traditional holiday shopping kickoff mean more might have shopped from home.

According to the Associated Press, preliminary sales data show shoppers spent $10.66 billion when they hit the malls on the day after Thanksgiving. That’s only 0.5 percent more than last year.

Web marketing analyst Coremetrics says the average amount that online shoppers spent on Black Friday rose 35 percent.

Friday’s retail bump was palpable, said Pine Ridge Road Goodwill store manager Charlotte Long, but nothing compared to Saturday’s early estimates.

“We got more people today than yesterday,” Long said Saturday. “We have been so busy.”

It seems like shoppers hit the big stores Friday and started going to the smaller local businesses on Saturday, Long said, adding she absolutely expects that a steady stream of shoppers will go through the store this holiday season.

For her part, North Naples resident Kate Russeau said she’s holding out for the deals to come.

“There were good deals, just not as many as last year,” said Russeau, 22, as she walked to her car outside of the Petco on Naples Boulevard. “I’m still on the search for the laptop, electronics and all that.”

The Florida Gulf Coast University student said she believes companies can’t afford to do deep discounts this year, but that doesn’t mean she’ll stop looking for what she needs.

Russeau admitted that the only real non-practical gifts she’d be getting would be some toys for her dog, an Akita mix named Bailey.

“I wasn’t so shopping for ‘Christmas,’ in as much as for myself,” said Russeau, whose family is also going for the practical gifts. “It’s more needs over wants this year.”

* * * * *

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Connect with Elysa Batista at www.naplesnews.com/staff/elysa_batista

© 2009 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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