The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

By Steve Hansen
Staff writer 

Black Friday making a comeback


Last updated 11/27/2021 at 1:42pm

Steve Hansen

Adrian and Victoria Guevara wheel a cartload of Christmas gifts to their vehicle in the Clovis Walmart parking lot on Friday morning after a pleasant, not-too-crowded early Black Friday shopping experience.

CLOVIS - Friday was Black Friday, and after a year of absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it returned with, if not a vengeance, with at least the appearance of back to normal for Clovis chain stores that usually bear the brunt of Black Fridays.

In fact, for a Black Friday, most shoppers seemed to agree it did not meet the usual image of this traditional busiest shopping day of the year.

Walmart, the largest of Clovis' chain stores, opened at 5 a.m., drawing a preopening crowd estimated at 120, store manager Johnny Barajas said.

The store was able to avert a rush to the door using merchandise cards that allowed store employees to find items and deliver them to customers waiting in cars.

About 9:30 a.m., however, the store appeared to be hosting a busy, but not overly crowded day with shoppers comfortably maneuvering around each other in the shopping aisles.

Considering last year's cancellation due to COVID-19, however, Barajas said the store was seeing a "very good turnout."

He said crowds were likely lighter on the "official" Black Friday, a day after Thanksgiving, because it was one of three Black Friday events Walmart had already conducted.

Barajas said that some shoppers' experiences had been marred by supply shortages, which have plagued businesses all over the country.

As an example, he said, "We ran out of turkeys five days before Thanksgiving."

At the North Plains Mall, General Manager Leeann Glen said that after checking all stores, the turnout was "just fine," especially after last year's closure. Comparing it with the turnout from two years earlier, however, she said, this year's seemed a little less.

She blamed lingering COVID-19 concerns for reducing turnout, but shoppers were getting what they came for.

All stores, she said, were well stocked.

At JC Penney, the mall's current anchor store, doors opened at 5 a.m., but shoppers did not show up until a few hours later. By about 1 p.m., shoppers crowded nearly every aisle in the store.

At that point, Ingrid Ruiz, the store manager, said, the store was having "great results." And she expected the number of shoppers to increase as evening approached

While she was pleased with the turnout, she said she had expected more. By early afternoon, she said, the crowd of shoppers was "still kind of light."

Bath and Body Works store manager Heather Zuniga said when doors opened around 8 a.m., business was "really slow."

"We only had half of the business we get in one hour in our first two hours," she said. "We were really patient."

By early afternoon, she said, sales were meeting the chain's normal expectations for business volume, she said.

"I'm glad all these people stayed here instead of going to Lubbock," she said.

Shoppers caught in the Walmart parking lot after early shopping Friday morning said they had no trouble finding what they were looking for and had little trouble with crowds.

As they wheeled a new television and other gifts through the parking lot, Paul and Berylann McAlister said the store was not crowded and they found what they were looking for right away.

Jorge Contreras, visiting Clovis from Elkhart, Ind., said he had been in the store since 7 a.m. as he loaded the bed of his pickup truck with Christmas gifts, but said he and Isabel Esparza, who accompanied him, had a good shopping experience.

"It was not crowded," he said. "There was no rush and no pushing."

Karen Carrera of Clovis, after loading a 70-inch television onto a pickup truck bed with the help of two friends, was as pleased with her experience as the others.

All said they were expecting to see more crowds for Black Friday, and crowds grew as the day wore on. Parking lots at Walmart and the North Plains Mall were no more than half full during early shopping hours but seemed filled to near capacity by early afternoon.


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