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'Christmas creep' is about more than competition, says retail association

Black Friday marks the traditional start of the holiday shopping season, but it's not the retail force it used to be, and it hasn't been for years.

Ted Potrikus, president of the New York State Retail Council, said that single day - the Friday after Thanksgiving - isn't unimportant.

"It's still busy, it's still important, it's still a bit of a pace-setter,” he said, “but I think it's a bit of a misnomer to go out there and say, 'oh, it's the biggest shopping day of the year,' because that's reserved for December 21 and 22."

The State Retail Council doesn’t poll members of its organization, but the National Retail Federation predicts at least a 4.5 percent increase in holiday sales over last year.

Potrikus said people complain about "Christmas creep", but the early sales aren't all about competition. They're also about safety.

"You know, when you have somebody get trampled to death, as we did ten years ago, the retail industry's response to that was to say, 'okay, we'll open earlier. We'll have the sales spread out over two weeks rather than just one day, to sort of ease the pressure on the front door that we saw in years past.' "

A Walmart employee on Long Island was killed in a crush of shoppers in 2008.

As in years past, electronics, winter clothing, and board games and cards are expected to be big sellers.

"There is a board game this year,” said Potrikus. “I'm told it's called Don't Step In It.  It is exactly what you think it would be and apparently that's flying off the shelves, colloquially speaking."

Beth Adams joined WXXI as host of Morning Edition in 2012 after a more than two-decade radio career. She was the longtime host of the WHAM Morning News in Rochester. Her career also took her from radio stations in Elmira, New York, to Miami, Florida.
Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.