Black Friday in Colorado, shopping mania |

Black Friday in Colorado, shopping mania

AURORA, Colo.” Steep, early-bird discounts lured even first-timers into the dark for pre-dawn store openings Friday, marking the traditional start of the holiday shopping season.

Marcella Garcia, 30, planned to meet a friend at Sears at the Aurora Mall when it opened at 5 a.m. to check out gifts for her husband that were marked at half off. The couple are buying a house, and Garcia said she hoped her gift spending would be half what it was last year.

“We were going to be here even if we had to be in our pajamas,” she said, wearing sweats and with her hair in a ponytail. “Food prices have gone up. I’m grateful for gas prices going down, but if I can be lower on what I spend, I can save.”

The Colorado Retail Council expects 1 to 2 percent sales growth in Colorado this holiday season from last year. The National Retail Federation says the 10-year average nationwide is 4.4 percent growth.

Retail customers have been reluctant to spend in recent months amid layoffs, shrinking retirement accounts, foreclosures and tight credit, and chains like Circuit City Stores Inc. have filed for bankruptcy protection.

Some retailers offered hefty 70 percent discounts even before the day after Thanksgiving, traditionally known as Black Friday because the rush of shoppers marked the first day many stores became profitable for the year.

The Outlets at Loveland was among shopping centers that opened at 11 p.m. Thursday night, with giveaways through the wee hours of lift tickets to the Loveland and Sunlight Mountain ski areas.

In Aurora, Donald McDaniel, 35, went to JC Penney at 4:30 a.m. to look at jewelry, then headed to Sears hoping to get a deal on a high-definition Blu-ray player or television before heading to Toys “R” Us. Sears was offering $500 off a $1,199.99 42-inch, flat-screen television

“It seems like the crowd is less this year, but I think the deals are a lot better. There’s lots of stuff marked off,” he said.

Meanwhile, some consignment and resale shops say they are seeing more people bring in items to be sold and faster turnover of inventory than last year.

“We’re doing really well,” Cassie Gootee, assistant manager of Buffalo Exchange in Denver, said last week. She didn’t release sales figures. “It’s just the nature of our business. Since we are a resale store, we’ve been busy through the harder economic times,” she said.

In the week before Thanksgiving, Lana Phoenix, owner of the Denver consignment store Twice as Haute, predicted at least average holiday revenues this year.

“Like everyone else in the world, we’re not expecting this to be our best retail season ever,” she said. Still, she said her store, with its bargains on boutique overstocks, might have a slight advantage over some other retailers.

“When people can get a $500 blazer for $75, it makes it worth shopping,” Phoenix said.

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