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Shopping lovers find their outlet

Scott Jagow Nov 23, 2007

Shopping lovers find their outlet

Scott Jagow Nov 23, 2007


SCOTT JAGOW: They called it Black Friday because this was the day when many retailers supposedly climbed into the black for the year. I don’t know if that’s really true.
But stores have made this day so important, they might forget it’s not a very good predictor of the holiday season overall. Last year, Thanksgiving weekend was huge but retailers struggled in December. And despite the long lines we saw today, this could be the slowest holiday season in five years. All the more reason to open at midnight, I guess. Rob Snowden is general manager of the Outlets at Hillsboro. The mall is an hour’s drive south of Dallas. Rob, what are you calling this day?

ROB SNOWDEN: Instead of Black Friday, I’m now calling it Red-Eye Friday. This is my first time hosting a midnight opening in a shopping center. And I’ve got to say, you know, not knowing quite what to expect, I think it was very well received.

JAGOW: So, people showed up at midnight?

SNOWDEN: People did show up at midnight because I think they were driven by the heavy discounts we were offering. And these were very serious shoppers who showed up at midnight.

JAGOW: What do you mean by serious?

SNOWDEN: Well, for instance, last week we had two women come in — two friends — who knew we were going to be opening at midnight. And they took a map of the center, and they walked the entire center to check out all the store locations and the discounts offered in each one so they could plan their attack when they arrived last evening.

JAGOW: So they were doing recon.

SNOWDEN: They were doing recon. And they did show up. And they did attack the center. And I think they went home very happy with what they purchased. And if they were happy, we were happy.

JAGOW: Uh, yeah, I don’t know quite what to say about that. … Why did you feel it necessary, Rob, to open at midnight?

SNOWDEN: Well, these midnight openings really were pioneered by the outlet segment of the shopping-center industry about four or five years ago. And each year they’ve tended to grow a little more to the fact that, I think, this year I doubt there were less than a handful of outlet centers that did not open at midnight — purely based on the success of the past several years. I think the economics of the holiday season have tended to differ a little bit from year to year. So it’s really just something that has built up and not necessarily reflective of what’s happening in the country this particular holiday season.

JAGOW: Is there any part of you, Rob, that wants to fight this? Wants to resist the temptation to open earlier and earlier?

SNOWDEN: No, not really. Because it’s amazing. People really come to this midnight opening with a sense of fun. Because rarely does anyone come shopping at these events alone. They’re usually in family groups or groups of friends, and they have as much of a social event together shopping for these bargains as anything else.

JAGOW: So you see this all as a good thing.

SNOWDEN: I see it as a very good thing. It’s a win-win-win for all of us. And I think it’s only going to get bigger and better in succeeding years.

JAGOW: All right, Rob, is it time for you to get some sleep now?

SNOWDEN: Oh, no-no-no. I’ve still got another full day ahead of me. I’ll try to get some sleep maybe tonight.

JAGOW: Rob Snowden, the general manager of the Outlets of Hillsboro, south of Dallas. Thanks for joining us.

SNOWDEN: Thanks, Scott.

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