Shoppers getting set to storm the stores for Black Friday sales

By By Lance Traweek / American Press

An estimated 147 million people are expected to come out for Black Friday nationwide, down from 220 million last year, according

to the industry trade group the National Retail Federation.

But Southwest Louisiana leaders are expecting consumer confidence will be up in Southwest Louisiana and area sales will be

above the national predictions.

“We will exceed the projections of national sales,” said George Swift, president and CEO of the SWLA Economic Alliance. “We

will do very well in the area this holiday season.”

Swift added that with major economic expansion announcements within the last year, sales this year will be better than 2011.

“Most of the people I talk to are a lot more optimistic than they were this time last year,” Swift said.

Swift also said the Alliance advocates shopping in the region, as opposed to traveling to metropolitan cities like Houston.

“It keeps the tax dollars here,” Swift said. “Plus it is way more convenient if you don’t travel as far.”

Swift said if sales are strong the momentum will continue throughout the year.

Carmen Million, president of the SWLA Better Business Bureau, said people will be out in big numbers Friday looking for deals.

“People are wanting to save money,” Million said.

Million said Black Friday will set the

pace for the holiday season.“We’re in a good place in Southwest

Louisiana and in the state,” Million said. “We will probably beat last

year’s sales.”

Million said past experience tells her that all deals are not created equal and the fine print is often the most important

thing.

One tip is to “know before you go,” she said.

“Many retailers will release their

Black Friday deals online, in social media and other publications,”

Million said in a news

release. “Research where the sales are and make a list of your

gift priorities to compare prices and plan your day of deals.”

Million said remember to bring ads with

you on Black Friday just in case the price is not what you expected.She

also said don’t fall for false advertising and to check return and

exchange policies.

But most importantly, she said consumers should shop safely.

“While getting a deal is important, there are ways to shop safely without putting yourself or your wallet in jeopardy,” Million

said in a news release. “Make a list and prioritize where you should go and when.”