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Published December 19 2010

Stores draw Super Saturday sale seekers

With a week to go until Christmas and a few items still lingering on her gift list, Debbie Nordick headed to West Acres on Saturday for a little last-minute shopping.

She was joined by a few thousand of her closest friends in an eleventh-hour retail blitz that wasn’t for the faint of heart. Nordick was part of a throng of holiday shoppers that descended upon the shops of Fargo for Super Saturday, the lesser-known but equally hectic cousin of Black Friday.

The day after Thanksgiving may get the headlines and the reputation, but the weekend before Christmas – a last hurrah for deal-lovers and gift-seekers – is a key event for stores in its own right. It’s the anchor of a torrid week that Chicago-based retail research firm ShopperTrak expects to contain five of the 10 busiest shopping days of the year.

The local crowds did nothing to dispel that notion, filling the parking lots of most major retailers around town and swarming the streets near shopping centers with bumper-to-bumper traffic.

At Target in Fargo, the toy and electronics sections were swarming with customers, many of whom patrolled the aisles with gift lists in hand. At Best Buy, shoppers waded through a maze of merchandise, much of which was discounted at levels that rivaled Black Friday’s “door buster” specials.

Kent Esterby, Best Buy general manager, said the weeks leading up to Christmas require diligent planning and preparation, from having enough sales staff on hand to making sure shelves stay stocked as customers make their purchases.

“It’s been very, very steady traffic all day,” he said. “You’ve got to have a good plan.”

In most years, Kristin Maddock, another West Acres shopper, has a good plan herself: Take care of her holiday shopping by Dec. 1.

This year, however, a busy month left her short on time, sending her to the mall to finish the job. Or in this case, start the job: At this point, she says, the last-minute Christmas shopping “is all the Christmas shopping.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Marino Eccher at (701) 241-5502