Black Friday sales were steady to strong in Bay Area

Sales on Black Friday were steady to strong this year at stores in Oakland and surrounding areas, a Walnut Creek wealth advisor and business owners said.

Morgan Stanley wealth advisor George Noceti said stores were packed and long lines suggest that nationwide retail sales this year will increase a few percentage points compared with last year.

Noceti attributed the increase to healthy job growth, rising median incomes, cold weather, and among other reasons, the end of the election season, all of which are expected to drive retail sales up by 3.6 percent.

Owner Ari Takata-Vasquez of the boutique store Viscera in Oakland said sales were up about 70 percent compared with last year.

Takata-Vasquez attributed part of the increase to the lack of construction in the area following the completion of Latham Square.

Luan Stauss who owns Laurel Book Store in downtown Oakland said business has been steady.

“We just have had a steady stream of people who are happy to be shopping in downtown Oakland,” Stauss said.

The bookstore was participating in Plaid Friday, an Oakland alternative to Black Friday that is meant to encourage people to shop locally.

Both Stauss and Takata-Vasquez said Plaid Friday helped their business.

“Yes, absolutely,” Stauss said.

“Definitely,” Takata-Vasquez said.

Stauss called it a great day to celebrate small businesses. She said city officials, businesses, among others, did a good job of promoting the event.

Noceti said the economy added two million jobs last year and the cold weather is prompting people to buy sweaters and coats this fall. Last year’s warmer weather kept people from buying those items and was a drag on sales.

Noceti doesn’t expect businesses to mark down coats and sweaters like last year, which meant lower profits for businesses.

The end of the election season has freed people to get ready for the holidays and median incomes rose more than 5 percent in 2015 compared with 2014.

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