By Frank Capece
By Saturday evening the biggest line at the Target Store in Union on Route 22 was at the small little Pizza Hut near the entrance. Quite a difference from 48 hours prior when by 10 p.m.on Thanksgiving, the lines and filled shopping carts were quite a site.
Actually, with anxious customers held in check by the metal barriers usually seen at Rock Concerts, the powers to be actually let people in before the 10 p.m.designated time. You can, as Yogi Berra said, learn a lot by just watching.
Among the conclusions drawn, is that a 72-inch Samsung television can fit into the Target shopping cart still permitting hungry-eyed shoppers to move at a brisk pace. The words of Roger Beahme can also be appreciated. Beahme, Director of the Center for Retail Innovation at the Wake Forrest School of Business said last week, “Retailers have long capitalized on the holiday season’s perfect storm of emotion and tradition. Through a flood of advertising on TV, radio and newspapers, retailers can create emotions.”
A short distance southeast, on Route 22, the scene at Walmart was raising the emotion of fear. A filled parking lot saw cars zigging and zagging for that rarest of gems: a parking space.
The pre-Black Friday crowd was pretty jovial. Maybe it’s the beating we all took property wise and emotionally thanks to Sandy. The holiday shoppers were laughing and patiently waiting at one of the 17 cash registers that were open and buzzing. Come Saturday, the closing K-Mart in Linden saw a more raucous crowd with a few nasty confrontations between aggressive shoppers and hapless cashiers.
The annual poll conducted by the New Jersey Business and Industry was in a word “encouraging.” Phil Krichner, the long time watcher of business trends and President of the trade group said, “Business is picking up, business confidence is rising and growing numbers of businesses believe New Jersey is on the right track.”
Right or wrong, for residents cleaning up after Irene, or part of 9.7 percent New Jersey unemployed, any good news is welcome, accuracy aside. Union County GOP Senator Tom Kean Jr. added, “This new data is a very positive sign for our state’s economic recovery and for our ability to build on the roughly 75,000 private sector jobs that have been created since February 2010.”
The National Retail Federation has estimated a 4 percent increase over last year. Still, homeowners pressed by a year of recession and costs related to Sandy may not be inclined to give up much disposable income. Another sign is seen driving down the Boulevard in Kenilworth or Springfield Avenue in Cranford. It is obvious that a whole lot of homeowners spent the weekend putting up Christmas lights. People want to get into the holiday mood.
By Monday, the National Retail Federation said that between pre-Black Friday and up to Sunday the market had seen nationally a 9.2 percent increase from last year. So why talk of higher property taxes locally, and big increases nationally on the horizon; people still want to get out of the blues of recession.
The owners of stores would be advised to keep the signs for future customer rushes reading “Do not run … Please do not lean on barriers.” Happy words indeed for county retailers.