Malls, Stores Expect More Traffic, Higher Spending on Thanksgiving Weekend

Brokerage Jones Lang LaSalle and others predict an increase of at least 5 percent in holiday spending this year, with almost 257 million people expected to head for U.S. stores and malls on the day after Thanksgiving, known as Black Friday, the perennial busiest day of the year for shopping in the United States. The lowest jobless rate since 1969, at 3.7 percent, is expected to provide an extra spending incentive.

Many retailers depend on holiday sales for a significant percentage of their annual income, allowing them to pay their rent and keep their doors open. They are trying new tactics to drive sales this year that include creating more storefront and online synergies and positioning themselves to fill the void left by closed chains such as Toys R Us.

“We’ve got a strong economy, good wage growth and low gas prices, so the fundamentals are working in our favor,” said Stephen Lebovitz, chief executive of Chattanooga, Tennessee-based CBL & Associates Properties, which owns 114 malls and other shopping properties in 26 states. “A lot of the stores we’ve added offer more entertainment and experience. Traditional retailers are aggressively marketing services like online buyer returns and returns at the store. All of that is starting to gain traction and translate into greater store traffic.”

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