Yalies can expect heavy discounts at stores in the Broadway shopping district this holiday season.
Stores in the district opened at 8 a.m. on this weekend’s “Black Friday,” hours before their usual opening times, to offer early bird deals to customers. Customers and store employees in several stores in the district said the new Apple store on Broadway, which opened Sept. 24, drew the most shoppers to the area. Though other stores did not see huge crowds at their Friday sales, store managers said they are confident about sales prospects for the holiday season.
“The Apple store has drawn people from outside New Haven who would otherwise not have come,” said Derek Humphrey, manager of outdoor clothing store Trailblazer. “Last year was good, and I hope we can get equal or better sales this year.”
Customer Dan Munson said he came to Broadway Friday from Guilford, Conn. to shop for his daughter’s birthday present. Although Broadway has a range of retail stores to offer, he said he was mostly drawn by the Apple store.
New Haven resident Dan Leblanc said he began shopping at Broadway at 10:30 a.m. to take advantage of the discounts.
“It wasn’t very crowded,” Leblanc added. “The only store that was really hopping is the Apple store.”
But managers of other stores on Broadway said they were satisfied with their Black Friday turnout.
Claudia Radley, manager of the British clothing store Jack Wills, said she has been pleased with sales so far, and anticipates a good season, a sentiment echoed by Ann Johnson, manager of accessories store Laila Rowe.
New Haven Shops, a collaborative of the Audubon, Broadway and Chapel Merchants Associations, which include most of the stores in those areas, has stepped up its promotions and events to draw more customers to their respective areas.
New Haven Shops has arranged for “free pictures with Santa” at the Barnes & Noble bookstore to run for extended hours this year, and will recruit local school musical ensembles to perform Thursday through Sunday along Chapel Street and Broadway, performances that took place only on Sundays last year.
“Broadway merchants [of New Haven Shops] is doing a great job with promotions,” said an Urban Outfitters employee who said company policy forbids.
New Haven Shops has also partnered with Info New Haven, a city-sponsored dining and shopping guide , which is offering several new programs this year to draw shoppers. These include free parking in the York Street Garage and Broadway Center Lot for shoppers Thursday through Sunday, a lottery for a $1,000 shopping card each Thursday night during December, and beverage vouchers and movie tickets to shoppers based on the amount they spend.
Johnson, the Laila Rowe manager, said the combination of these marketing initiatives, the 20 to 30 percent discounts offered by many stores and the presence of big-brand companies, particularly Apple, have attracted a greater volume of shoppers than in previous holiday seasons. She added that she anticipates a nearly 100 percent increase in sales from November to December.
Upcoming shopping events include the Holiday Fair at the New Haven Museum on Dec. 2-3 and the “Taste of New Haven” Holiday Food and Shopping Tour through the Chapel and Broadway shopping districts on Dec.17.