Holiday shopping subdued

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The Friday after Thanksgiving is traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year, but in Steamboat Springs, people apparently saw the snow outside and rolled over for a couple more hours of sleep. Wal-Mart opens at 6 a.m. on the day after Thanksgiving every year to a line of waiting shoppers. This year, the doors opened, but the shoppers didn't show up until 8 a.m., store manager Mark Meade said.

Store managers scheduled extra people for the expected Nov. 26 rush and ran specials, such as a 20-inch flat screen television for $139, to draw in the crowds.

By the afternoon, the store had two of the sale televisions remaining. In contrast, Wal-Mart ran a similar special in 2002, with 27-inch televisions for $149. There was a long line at the door by 5:50 a.m., and the store ran out of televisions by 7 a.m.

Meade blamed the slow shopping morning on the snow.

"The roads were terrible this morning," he said.

Meade couldn't share numbers and said he wouldn't know how sales figures compared with previous years until today.

Joe Kboudi, owner of All That Jazz, opened the doors of his music store at 10 a.m.

"I didn't open early, but I'm thinking about it next year," he said.

There wasn't a line out the door, but there was a steady stream of customers all day.

Kboudi credited the release of the new U2 album, the Halo 2 game and the strong advertising campaigns of a few new box sets with the strength of his business.

For the music store, this year is better than last year, he said

Kboudi sees the day after Thanksgiving as an indicator of the rest of the holiday shopping season, but said he and other retailers in Steamboat Springs aren't as dependent on the day's sales totals as stores in larger cities.

In a resort community, the numbers tend to be more dependent on the ski season than on the calendar date.

"If the mountain had really fabulous snow, people would be skiing, not shopping," Kboudi said. "People are visiting for three days, but if the snow isn't great, they will ski one day, and they'll shop the others.

"The day after Thanksgiving used to be the busiest day of the year. But for us, now, it's the Saturday before Christmas and the day before Christmas."

The downtown shopping traffic made its way to The Homesteader, which was busy all day. The store didn't open early, and it didn't have any sale items, but it had been running a lot of ads, manager Kathryn Grider said.

"We definitely saw the numbers we expected," Grider said. "This day is a good barometer for us. This is the kickoff."

For downtown businesses, Grider said, weather is less of a factor in sale figures.

"Our location helps," she said.

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