‘People want to get back to life’: Black Friday not so bleak this year

Thanksgiving may have brought an unseasonable amount of snow, but shoppers still came out for Black Friday.

Several Friday Harbor businesses said sales on the day after Thanksgiving — the kickoff to the holiday shopping season — went as well if not better than last year.

“It was really great,” said Laura Norris of Griffin Bay Book Store. Norris said she has read that the nation’s financial status is starting to improve, and took the good Friday turnout as a sign that “maybe things have plateaued … people want to get back to life.”

Similarly, Julie Capron-Ashcraft at Softwear thought sales were satisfactory. The heavy snow on Thanksgiving morning meant that her Thanksgiving Day sale was not packed, however, she made up for it on Friday and over the weekend.

Cotton Cotton Cotton owner Gail Schnee was also pleased with the turnout, which included “locals and visitors.”

The presence of more visitors was also noted by Second Act owner Karrie King: “Off-island families were well represented.”

King reported a better Black Friday than last year. She said a good sale day depends on the quality of the offers, the weather, and the economy.

Theresa Chevalier at King’s Marine said inclement weather may actually have helped local Black Friday sales as people may have chosen to stay on island instead of chasing deals on the mainland.

Chevalier said that not only were sales up from last year, but people seemed to be spending more on themselves, and not confining themselves to gift shopping.

“Sixty to 70 percent of sales were for personal use,” Chevalier said.

Friday Harbor needs a healthy holiday shopping season. Sales tax goes into the town’s Current Fund, which — with property tax, leasehold tax and fees — pays for community development, general government, parks, public safety and streets.

In sales tax revenue generated, November 2009 was one of the three lowest Novembers since 1999. December 2009 was an improvement, the fourth best since 1999.

Sales in January, February, April and July lagged behind the same months in 2009; March was about par. Sales were strong in May, June, August and September.

All told, to date the town has received $795,806.58 as its share of sales tax revenue generated within the town limits. That’s down from $828,925 in 2009, $956,646 in 2008 and $1,039,281 in 2007, when the town’s economy started to slide.

However, town lodging tax revenues are up. To date, the town has received $117,196.75 in each of the two lodging tax revenues it collects — one, for tourist-related facilities; two, for tourism promotion.

Last year to date, the town had received $110,634 from each lodging tax.