Last February, just as the holiday season was coming to a close, Darren Howard walked into the Boise Towne Square Mall office, where he serves as general manager, to tell his staff what was probably the last thing they wanted to hear: Exactly how many days were left until Black Friday.
"It was a bit of a cruel joke because that was nearly 10 months ago," said Howard. "But the holiday shopping season is something that never leaves our minds."
It will be all hands, minds and bodies on deck this year when Boise mall staff swing the doors open at 6 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 24. Long considered to be the busiest shopping day of the year, the day after Thanksgiving has become a critical turning point for many U.S. stores.
The National Retail Federation forecasts that this year, an estimated 115 million Americans will shop on Black Friday, with holiday sales projected to approach $700 million, an approximate 4 percent increase over 2016.
Even so, the increasing popularity of online sales means many U.S. brick-and-mortar stores, particularly national chains, are hurting. A report from Credit Suisse, a financial services company, published this past June indicated thousands of stores would close by the end of the year. On June 25, CNN Money posted a story with the headline "Malls are Doomed," reporting that 25 percent of U.S. malls might be gone in five years.
Fox Business News added to the avalanche of bad press on Sept.19, citing a pending "retail apocalypse" and listing store closures from Abercrombie & Fitch, American Apparel, JCPenney, The Limited, Macy's and Sears.
- Glenn Landberg
- Darren Howard, general manager of the Boise Towne Square Mall
But at Boise Towne Square Mall, headlines have been the exact opposite.
"Boise continues to have one of the most successful malls for General Growth Properties," said Howard, referring to the Chicago-based business which owns 126 retail properties in 40 U.S. states. "We track the customer traffic here at the mall, right down to the hour of the day. We track the sales. We track every metric that's measurable."
According to GGP statistics, approximately 13 million people visit the 195 retailers and restaurants in Boise Towne Square Mall annually, a significant leap from when the mall first opened its doors.