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Shoppers start early, stay busy

November 23, 2018

Despite e-commerce’s growing hold on the retail market, plenty of residents in southwestern Connecticut still made their way to stores for Black Friday deals.

Thanksgiving weekend remains highly anticipated for shoppers and retailers alike as people crowd in malls, outlets and other shops in search of discounts. The National Retail Federation estimated that 116.4 million people were planning on going shopping on Black Friday this year.

“Although there are some stores that have pretty good sales, we’re really just here for the spirit of it all,” said Greenwich resident Ping Li, after he and his wife Alessia Li stopped at the neighboring J. Crew store.

“We definitely tend to check out the stores on Black Friday because there are sales,” Alessia Li said. “It’s not that we buy a crazy amount; we just buy a few things.”

Area malls continue to draw in large concentrations of shoppers this year.

At Danbury Fair mall at the junction of Interstate 84 and Route 7, activity was strong in the Black Friday morning hours, according to Melissa Eigen, head of marketing for the Macerich-owned property anchored by Macy’s, JCPenney, Lord & Taylor, Sears and Primark. Danbury Fair has created a website at www.danburyfairmall.com/sales listing the best offers each retailer has to offer.

“Retailers did not disappoint with sales up to 50 percent off,” Eigen stated in an email response to a Hearst Connecticut Media query. “Families and friends are shopping in groups and enjoying time together.”

It was the same in Milford’s Connecticut Post Mall just off Interstate 95. The city’s commercial and entertainment hub was bustling as guests wandered around with bags full to the top.

Many were from the newly opened Boscov’s. Though it’s only been around for two months, the department store, which replaced the former J.C. Penney, appears to be a big draw for the mall.

“Boscov’s is awesome,” said shopper Gabe Blonze, who had been shopping with his wife and daughter since the mall opened at 6 a.m.

Another store that saw a sizable crowd of shoppers was the Sears on the other side of the mall, which is preparing to go out of business like dozens nationwide following the company’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Retailers along other commercial corridors also benefited from increased business.

“As we enter the afternoon, downtown Greenwich is picking up and shoppers are out and about,” said Sonia Malloy, owner of the Greenwich gift shop Splurge at 39 Lewis St. just off Greenwich Avenue, on Friday.

Although Fairfield’s Post Road corridor appeared somewhat quieter, shoppers could be found in a number of stores along the downtown strip. Rather than follow the crowds to the mall and chain stores, Fairfield resident Katie Peloso chose to shop local.

“It makes a big difference,” she said. “We don’t want to go to the mall, so we’re trying to go to the non-chain stores and local stores and avoid the crowds.”

She and her family started their day at local clothing store Apricot Lane Boutique, which bustled with dozens of patrons sifting through racks and wall displays lined with discounted prices.

Owner Diane Holtz expected the rush of business.

“I’ve been in business almost eight years and we’ve developed a clientele and a following, and our customers are really important to us,” she said. “It’s different than a chain where they can buy something that is the same everywhere.”

Includes contributions from Paul Schott and Alexander Soule.

Jordan.grice@hearstmediact.com

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