By Valerie Baldowski
Tanger Factory Outlet Center is all decked out for Christmas.
On Nov. 18, the lights and holiday decorations went up at the Locust Grove shopping center. An 18-foot Christmas tree, with a four-foot star, was also set up, to be visible from Interstate 75.
According to Mall Manager Holly Duffey, that special touch should put shoppers in a festive mood and boost sales. "I think it's always exciting, the music and the decorations," Duffey said. "People want to buy more. They think, 'Hey, Christmas is just around the corner.' It's a mental reminder."
She said the decorations are meant to have a universal appeal, regardless of religious affiliation. "Even if you don't celebrate Christmas, you still want to celebrate the holidays," added Duffey. "There's something to celebrate no matter who you are."
The lights and decorations were handled by Clayton Signs in Lake City. Although the crew putting them up was small, they took care to do a thorough job.
"It typically takes them five to six hours to do the installations," said Shane Moody, a sales representative for the company. "Every pole light there has a fixture on it."
Moody said that despite working with electricity, the workers were safe and there was no danger of injuries. The decorations normally stay up "through the week after Christmas" before being taken down.
"It's gotten to be an extra joy for people to come out and see that," Moody added. "A lot of your retail shopping centers do not partake of this anymore. Times change."
As an example, he referred to Avondale Mall. Before it closed, mall management would decorate it for Christmas.
Duffey said sales during the holiday shopping season are always a boon to stores, and help round out total revenue for the rest of the year. "Between November and December, statistically with retailers, 80 percent of their sales for the entire year are comprised in those two months."
According to Duffey, that 80 percent is an average figure. Taking into account the economy of this past year, the percentage may be less. But she said the flip side of that is retailers' willingness to offer better deals and bigger incentives to attract as many shoppers as possible.
"Now is the perfect time to buy because of the economy," she continued. "The sales will be bigger."
Tanger opened at midnight on Thanksgiving night for its Midnight Madness sale. The shopping event offered special offers from Coach, Polo, Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, The Children's Place, Nike and other stores at the mall.
It also featured what it billed as its Early Bird Offers Nov. 28, from 7-11 a.m., and Nov. 29, from opening until 11 a.m., Night Owl Savings, Nov. 28 and 29, from 5 p.m., to closing, and the Big Outlet Sunday Sale, all day on Nov. 30.