Holiday shoping begins

Helena Rodriguez: Freedom Newspapers

The early bird gets the laptop.

That’s the lesson Kelah Sephus learned as she and many others lined up at the Clovis Super Wal-Mart on Black Friday hoping to get one of a limited number of laptops on sale during the first official day of the holiday shopping season.

“They only had 10 laptops and ran out before I got here at 6 a.m.,” Sephus said. But she wasn’t too disappointed, saying, “Stores are doing better now as far as stocking up on things. You can still come back later and find what you want. Years ago, you couldn’t.”

While at Wal-Mart Sephus found other items in high demand, like DVD recorders, moon shoes (shoes with springs) and Baby Einstein items.

According to Jay Cordray, manager of the Portales Wal-Mart Supercenter, all of the store’s 20 laptops, selling for $378 each, quickly sold out when doors opened at 5 a.m.

However, Cordray said that through a new information system which bases supply on the previous year’s demand, they will be getting more of the high-demand items in before Christmas.

“It’s so much easier now for us to give people what they want,” Cordray said.

Cordray said that the items most in demand this Christmas are Star Wars lightsabers, anything with Dora the Explorer and high definition TV.

Video games are also popular this Christmas. At Interactive Zone in North Plains Mall, Joe Inbar said the most popular games selling are Virtual Kickboxing and TV Game and at EB Games in North Plains Mall, manager Erick Welsh said the XBox 360 is the most popular game machine. As far as games, holiday favorites are Need for Speed, Gun, Smack Down vs. Raw and 50 Cent Bulletproof.

While higher gas prices have put a dent in people’s wallets, many shoppers like Sephus say they will spend the same amount or more on Christmas gifts this year.

Cindy Banister, property manager of North Plains Mall in Clovis, said area retailers may actually benefit from higher gas prices.

“The prices of gas are higher in Texas, so I think this will keep more people shopping at home,” Banister said. “And with Big Lots and other new stores in town, that also helps keep everyone here. More stores in town helps everyone.”

According to Banister, Christmas spending is expected to increase by five percent this holiday season, and for more businesses it’s Black Friday – the day after Thanksgiving – which can make a difference between ending the year in the red or black.

“JCPenney and Sears opened at 5 a.m. this morning and it has been nonstop since then,” Banister said. “We expect a lot of sales, and not just today, but all weekend. We hope the crowds will hold out all weekend.”

Brittney Lawson of Wise, Va., who was in town visiting family over Thanksgiving, said she woke up at 5 a.m. on Friday to purchase a Leap Frog educational toy from Wal-Mart.
“The day after Thanksgiving is the only time I get up that early to shop. It was worth getting up early,” she said. “There was a good-size crowd but I was able to get most of my shopping done today.”

Lawson said she plans to spend more money on Christmas gifts this year, but that’s because she has more people to shop for now.

Shopping on Black Friday is a tradition for Leticia Ramos of Portales who said she feels as if she is missing out on something if she doesn’t shop early. She was at Big Lots in Clovis at 6 a.m.

“I always think to myself, ‘What if I miss out on getting that present I could have gotten?’” Ramos said. “I think I will spend the same amount of money on Christmas as last year. With the higher cost of gas, I will still find a way.”