Oxford police Chief Bill Partridge said extra officers from his department will be patrolling the city’s retail areas as the year’s busiest shopping season gets under way the day after Thanksgiving, when retailers typically begin offering special discounts and promotions.
Partridge said the additional staffing on Black Friday has become a common practice in Oxford, recommending that shoppers help officers in their effort to keep everyone safe by following some basic tips:
• Do not leave packages unattended and visible in vehicles while shopping, Partridge said. Often shoppers will hop from one store to another, depositing their purchases in their vehicle between trips. A package left visible inside a car is an unnecessary temptation for would-be thieves, Partridge said. Instead, lock packages in the trunk or carry them home straight away.
• The National Crime Prevention Council recommends that shoppers have car keys in hand before approaching their vehicles, and to check the back seat and around the car before entering. The group also recommends shoppers wait until asked by a cashier before taking out credit cards or checkbooks, to help prevent thieves from retrieving banking information by glancing over a shopper’s shoulder.
All those shoppers are expected to give the state’s business sector a boost this holiday season. The Alabama Retail Association predicts shoppers will spend at least 4 percent more in November and December than the $8.8 billion spent during the 2011 holiday season.
Based on this year’s average monthly sales growth of 4.33 percent, the association estimates that Alabamians will spend $350 million more this holiday season on taxable purchases, or about $9 billion during November and December, said Nancy King Dennis, spokeswoman for the Retail Association.
With all that spending comes the need for retailers to hire. Dennis said that while she does not yet have exact figures for 2012, Alabama retailers are typically always the largest sector hiring during November and December.
“The larger retailers have been hiring. Target has been hiring. Walmart has been hiring. They’re hiring about what they did last year or a little more,” Dennis said. “… and some of those people will stay on working after the first of the year.”
Competition for those seasonal jobs is stiff, Dennis said, as many people, like college students and seniors, are out looking for one of those jobs to make a little money over the holidays.
Staff writer Eddie Burkhalter: 256-235-3563. On Twitter @Burkhalter_Star.