SALT LAKE CITY — The shopping landscape along the Wasatch Front is undergoing a significant renovation and adding at least one new brand name in the next year — Crate & Barrel.
Fashion Place mall announced Utah's first Crate & Barrel store will open in November 2011. The Chicago-based home, housewares and furniture retailer will be located next to the Cheesecake Factory in Murray.
The new store is the first of 17 shops to be added to the mall's retail lineup during phase two of the multimillion dollar renovation project that will add 98,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space to the popular mid-valley shopping location.
Fashion Place general manager Celeste Dorris said Crate & Barrel and the new stores are reflective of the modern consumer in Utah, and despite the current economic challenges, the mall continues to try harder to attract more shoppers as the holiday shopping season approaches.
"We're opening very first of all the malls on Thanksgiving night … and getting the jump on Black Friday shopping," she said. The mall will be open for 24 hours beginning Nov. 25 at 9 p.m. to the same time on Friday night, she said.
Traditionally, retailers have depended on the holiday season to make their financial numbers, and the Friday after Thanksgiving is when they kick their efforts into overdrive to attract more shoppers.
Last year, thousands of bundled-up Utahns started lining up in the early hours of the morning to ensure they would be the among the first in line to grab "door-buster" specials and outrageous holiday deals, not to mention thousands more who went to Black Friday events at indoor malls around the valley. Those holiday parties included live music, food, and merchandise giveaways to go along with the shopping specials.
But based on the hype of the last few weeks, this year's holiday shopping season could be an even bigger — and longer — production.
For example, Sears announced that it will also open its stores for a while on Thanksgiving Day. NPR reports that Walmart is planning to open most of its stores at midnight on Nov. 26 in an attempt to gain an advantage in the shopping wars.
Meanwhile, retailers like Best Buy are touting discounts being offered right now, and Target has announced its largest-ever free-shipping event for the holidays, as well as plans for its actual sales on the big day.
For those who enjoy braving chill of night, but who also want to get a jump on their planning, several online sites are offering previews of many of the major retailers' advertising circulars, including bfads.net, BlackFriday.info, BlackFriday.com and TheBlackFriday.com.
And to avoid being outdone, online retailers are working to get the jump on the virtual equivalent of Black Friday, Cyber Monday. Amazon.com and overstock.com, are also getting into the early shopping act as well.
While some shoppers may prefer shopping virtual reality, many still choose the "brick and mortar" experience.
Analysts have identified several reasons shoppers will do crazy things such as shop in the middle of the night en masse.
"First, many experience a 'thrill of the hunt' emotion where they zero in on their item and bring it back to the family," said Dr. Darren Adamson, clinical director at Leavitt Institute for Marriage and Family in Provo. "Second, many shoppers don't want to miss the excitement involved in staying up late or getting up early with hordes of others who anticipate store openings and rushing to snatch the item they want."
Adamson said items labeled as "once-in-a-lifetime" deals actually work to entice shoppers.
"When shoppers identify a desirable door-buster item, they'll plot strategy to get that item," he explained, "So the more stores can showcase such goods, the more assured they can be to draw in crowds."
Another contributing factor to Black Friday shopping is tradition.
"There is incredible power in traditions and rituals," Adamson said. "For some it is one of the family-centered traditions included in the celebrations of the season."
Some families have made Black Friday a very significant part of their holiday celebration, he said.
Lastly, a surprising element that may drive others to shop is to fill the void of loneliness during the season.
"We're learning more about holiday time also being a time of pain," Adamson said. "Interacting at a large shopping center can replace family centered traditions that can bring anguish to some at this time of year."
Contributing: Greg Kratz