The Friday after Thanksgiving traditionally opens the holiday shopping season, but while customers worry about finding gifts for family and friends, store managers are concerned with overcoming the nation”s economic problems and finding seasonal employees.

As a result, customers may find some of the best deals in years if they”re willing to wait in line longer at the cash register.

Jerry Vibber, manager of Eddie Bauer at Briarwood Mall, said customers shop on Friday because they aren”t busy during Thanksgiving break and because stores offer a full selection of merchandise at the beginning of the holiday season. As the season progresses, he said, popular items quickly disappear.

Seth Beebe, manager of Abercrombie and Fitch, said the Friday after Thanksgiving is an important business day because his store earns six to seven times the profit it does on a normal weekday.

To accommodate the increase in customers, Beebe said Abercrombie and Fitch will extend its working hours this Friday, but he said the store is struggling to find enough employees to work on the day.

“We have about a hundred more hours to use on Friday and Saturday for employees than we usually do. To fill those hours we need 20 to 30 more people than we usually have,” Beebe said. “Currently, we do not have enough employees. Probably, if you come here on Friday, it”s going to be really slow.”

Beebe said in past years, employees from his store asked their friends to work during the Thanksgiving weekend and recruited students from the University, and he prepared the new employees for the Thanksgiving weekend by personally training them during the week. But this year, due to a managerial changeover and communication problems, the store has not spent much time recruiting at the University.

Vibber said Eddie Bauer is hiring seasonal employees and preparing them for the weekend, but because many college students return home for the holidays and specifically ask to work seasonal shifts, the store doesn”t need to recruit employees.

In addition to accommodating the influx of customers, Deline Postuma, manager of Love from Michigan on Main St., said stores must worry about the effect of the nation”s recent economic struggles on this year”s holiday sales. She said she expects the economic struggles will have at least a 20 percent impact on the store”s profits this season.

Beebe said Abercrombie and Fitch and other stores throughout Briarwood will offer more sales discounts this year than in previous years to counteract the economic problems.

“A lot of stores are doing more promotions than usual just because the last year was such a fantastic year for retail, but this year we know it”s not going to be as good, so they”re doing all they can to at least come close to last year”s profits,” Beebe said.

Anna Polk, an employee at Gadzooks, said after the economy began to slow down, the store created a “buy more, save more” deal to encourage customers to spend more money.

LSA freshman Joanna Kliger said that although she realizes the nation”s economy has been struggling recently, she doesn”t plan to spend less money shopping this year.

“Obviously the nation”s problems concern me, but on a personal level, if I have money, I”ll spend it,” Kliger said.

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