OTTUMWA — Shoppers looking to catch the best deals won’t have much time to recover from their Thanksgiving feast next week.

They will be heading to malls and stores the next day, kicking off the holiday shopping season.

Retailers in the Ottumwa area are getting ready for the busy holiday shopping season. Many have already hired seasonal help and have extra items stocked.

At Target in Ottumwa, they have already hired a seasonal staff to help keep up with the increase in shoppers, said Megan Borowski, executive team lead of the sales floor.

On Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, some retailers open their doors early and offer special deals.

“We do anticipate lines,” Borowski said. “And we anticipate early morning guest traffic.”

At Vanity, a women’s clothing store at Quincy Place Mall in Ottumwa, their busiest time is the late morning into the afternoon on Black Friday. That’s mainly because most shoppers head to department stores early for the door-buster sales and then head to other stores, said Vanity Store Manager Jody Herschleb. Everything at Vanity will be buy one get one half off the days before and after Thanksgiving.

Throughout the holiday season, shoppers deal with long lines and retailers hope they can move customers along as quickly as possible.

“We hope there’s a lot of customers, but we hope there’s not a lot of long lines,” said Ottumwa JCPenney Store Manager Greg Martin. Department stores like JCPenney have multiple cash registers, so they are able to keep lines moving fast. Vanity, however, has trouble with lines since there is only one cash register in the store.

“It’s very frustrating on our side, and I’m sure it is for customers as well,” said Herschleb. “But we’ll have two girls working register to speed up the process.”

Despite the rocky economy, Target staff members are planning for “normal holiday traffic,” this season, Borowski said.

Borowski said despite the busy holiday shopping after Thanksgiving, there isn’t much of a lull in business in the weeks building up to Black Friday.

“It actually builds the closer you get to Thanksgiving,” she said. That could be because families travel for Thanksgiving, and are planning and shopping before Thanksgiving.

Though it’s been a tough year on businesses, retailers are hopeful that the shopping season will give them a boost.

“The economy is challenging for everybody,” said Martin. I think customers are savvy and I think they want to buy meaningful gifts. I think they’ll be out shopping,” Martin said.

The manager at Vanity hopes that the sales at least stay consistent through the holiday season.

“Our sales definitley have not taken a plunge compared to most businesses,” Herschleb said. “We’ve stayed pretty consistent.”

“I feel good about where we’re at here in Ottumwa and I think there’s a good opportunity in the holiday season,” Martin said.

Pat Shaver can be reached at (641) 683-5360 or by e-mail at p.shaver@ottumwacourier.com.

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