Retailers extend Black Friday deals in sagging economy

For all of those trying to steer clear of Black Friday’s madness, retailers are cutting you a break.

Macy’s, Pier One and other big merchants are extending the year’s biggest shopping day beyond Friday to keep reeling in shoppers, as many need extra convincing to part with their pennies.

“The way the economy is looking, people need bigger sales,” said Thomas Larswell, 59, a Bronx resident out shopping Thursday.

Stores and online merchants are scrambling to come up with novel ways to motivate Black Friday shoppers after last year’s weak earnings. Sales were down 2.2 percent in 2008, the largest decline since the International Council of Shopping Centers started keeping records in 1970, according to the trade group.

This year, Lord and Taylor, Office Max and Century 21 are offering deals throughout the weekend. Others retailers started slashing prices before Black Friday.

“They’d rather have a little less profit than watch the dollar walk away entirely,” said Larswell, who got an early $50 discount on  a leather jacket at a midtown store Thursday, a day before the sale was supposed to start.

Still, some shoppers out on Thanksgiving worried all the good deals would be gone by the weekend. And others thought the extended run defeated the point of Black Friday.

“It’s about the thrill of the hunt,” said Jeanne Baskett, of Harlem, who was shopping along 32nd Street in midtown Thursday.

While there is hope that Black Friday shopping will be more robust than last year, many consumers are still sitting on the fence. According to the National Retail Federation, an estimated 77 million Americans will wait to decide whether to shop after checking out the deals, as compared to 57 million who expected to definitely hit the stores.

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