A larger-than-life reindeer awaits holiday shoppers near an entrance at Nugget Mall on Wednesday, where there were no obvious “Black Friday” signs or banners on display, but merchants are nonetheless readying sales prices in the hopes of luring an increased flow of traffic. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

A larger-than-life reindeer awaits holiday shoppers near an entrance at Nugget Mall on Wednesday, where there were no obvious “Black Friday” signs or banners on display, but merchants are nonetheless readying sales prices in the hopes of luring an increased flow of traffic. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Black Friday looking less bleak

Economic and weather storms a setback, but post-pandemic participation by shoppers promising

Craig Crandall has experienced lots of different types of Black Fridays at his Nugget Mall store during the past 25 years, but that experience merely means he knows there’s no predicting what this year might be like.

“Every year it’s different,” the owner of Gourmet Alaska said Tuesday. “With the economy and the weather it’s so hard to predict.”

The economy is definitely turbulent due to inflation and supply chain issues, and the weather may be as well with an alert for a “giant Thanksgiving storm” and more misery Friday in for the form of snow/sleet/frozen rain forecast. On the sunny side, there’s fewer COVID-19 pandemic issues to cope with than a year ago.

“It’s starting to come back,” Crandall said, referring to the level of everyday shopping activity at the mall.

There were no prominent Black Friday signs or banners at the Nugget Mall on Tuesday, but Crandall said he is promoting sales for that day via his store’s website and social media accounts.

Nationally holiday sales increased 14.1% last year compared to the previous year, due to the relaxing of COVID-19 restrictions and some people receiving relief funds, according to the National Retail Federation. This year merchants are generally forecasting a slower rate of growth due to high inflation during much of the past year.

Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire 
Craig Crandall, owner of Gourmet Alaska, writes up a customer’s purchase Wednesday at his store in the Nugget Mall. Crandall, who has operated the store for 25 years, said prospects for this year’s holiday shopping season are highly uncertain due to positives such as fewer COVID-19 impacts and negatives such as a struggling economy.

Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire
Craig Crandall, owner of Gourmet Alaska, writes up a customer’s purchase Wednesday at his store in the Nugget Mall. Crandall, who has operated the store for 25 years, said prospects for this year’s holiday shopping season are highly uncertain due to positives such as fewer COVID-19 impacts and negatives such as a struggling economy.

The modest forecast follows the 14.1% jump for last year’s holiday season, according to the National Retail Federation.

Black Friday in Juneau typically avoids the maddest of merchant melees, with no “Midnight Madness” or even 4 a.m. openings where crowds crush each other as soon as the doors open. But the Nugget Mall will open early at 8 a.m., the Mendenhall Mall even earlier at 7 a.m. for its Black Friday event that will feature an array of crafts and other local sellers beyond the fixed stores. Large chain stores such as Fred Meyer and Costco are expecting big early crowds even though their hours won’t be markedly different than usual.

Sizeable crowds are also a near certainty at the Juneau Public Market, historically the most distinctive local Black Friday event, scheduled from noon to 7 p.m. at Centennial Hall and the Juneau Arts & Culture Center. The market is also scheduled to be open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

For people wanting the coziness of online shopping and to support independent local merchants a holiday season thread has been set up at the Juneau Community Collective Facebook page, where everything from salt spas to plants to photos to pet grooming are being posted.

Crandall said his store, like all local merchants, has struggled for years due to competition from online merchants, but the COVID-19 pandemic did turn that into a blessing since many residents opted to seek to support local businesses even when forced to shop remotely.

“Without that you’re left just with online shopping and no actual stores,” he said.

For people needing or wanting to shop Thanksgiving Day, all four of Juneau’s supermarkets will be open, although the IGA stores Foodland and Super Bear will have reduced hours. Other major and independent retailers will generally be closed.

For people wanting the coziness of online shopping and to support independent local merchants a holiday season thread has been set up at the Juneau Community Collective Facebook page, where everything from salt spas to plants to photos to pet grooming are being posted.

The following are Thanksgiving and Black Friday hours at Juneau’s major malls and retailers:

Fred Meyer: Open at 6 a.m. both Thanksgiving (closing at 4 p.m.) and Black Friday (closing at 10 p.m.).

Costco: Closed Thanksgiving, open 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Black Friday.

Nugget Mall: Closed Thanksgiving. Open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Black Friday.

Mendenhall Mall: Closed Thanksgiving. Open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Black Friday.

Home Depot: Closed Thanksgiving. Open 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Black Friday.

Don Abel Building Supply: Closed Thanksgiving. Open 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Black Friday

Western Auto: Closed Thanksgiving. Open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Black Friday

Safeway: Open 5 a.m. to midnight Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

Super Bear IGA: Open 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thanksgiving and 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Black Friday.

Foodland IGA and Ace Hardware: Open 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thanksgiving and 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Black Friday.

• Contact Mark Sabbatini at mark.sabbatini@juneauempire.com

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