November 16, 2012

Editorial: Black Friday gets greener


---- — As the decades pass, merchants become smarter and more resourceful about getting their products into the hands of their customers. It’s a trend for which we have great appreciation.

Black Friday — the day after Thanksgiving — has become almost as much of a landmark as Thanksgiving itself. To a store owner, Black Friday rivals Christmas.

It was only mildly surprising when, several years back, some merchants decided to open around dawn on that Friday. What was downright amazing was the throngs that drew to the stores that joined in the initiative.

As a matter of fact, some locales around America reported mob scenes, complete with fights and injuries, as single-minded shoppers rushed to get to their targeted specials.

Then it evolved that the opening time was pushed back even further, with Wal-Mart, Sears and some other retailers opening on Thanksgiving night. Target is joining the ranks of early openers this year. Some employees who work at these stores have grumbled about their holidays being cut short, and you have to wonder how many people want to head out to shop after eating a big turkey dinner. But that is the reality of modern retailing.

Now, the shopping anchor of the North Country — Champlain Centre mall — has announced it is planning to up the stakes: It will open at the stroke of midnight when Thanksgiving yields to the biggest shopping day of the year.

Not only will the stores that choose to participate be open an additional 10 hours to promote commerce, they will be open for what may be the most lucrative 10 hours of the entire year. Cash registers could be running virtually at a staccato pace.

A week ago, Clinton County Treasurer Joseph Giroux reported to the County Legislature that sales-tax figures are ahead of projections this year by more than $3 million — $1 million in one month alone.

That adds up to revenue for which the county’s property taxpayers can eventually be spared. As we have said here before, sales tax is far preferable to land tax because it assesses people who want to spend and snags many people from out of the area. In effect, it enables taxes to be paid by people who don’t live around here or have the same stakes and the same burdens that locals have.

We trust preparations will be established so the shopping will be orderly and in no way regrettable for anyone.

The merchants will benefit from this new opportunity, of course, and, as we’ve said, so will everyone with an interest in Clinton County.

But, beyond that, midnight Black Friday openings offer a new event for the area — sort of the shopper’s version of the midnight movie debut.

We hope the promise in this commercial expansion is realized by all.