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Gurnee Mills No Black Friday midnight madness

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Updated: April 2, 2011 5:27PM

GURNEE — Last year, Gurnee Mills opened at midnight the day after Thanksgiving for the biggest shopping day of the year.

This year, the mall is gearing up for Black Friday, but opening its doors at 5 a.m. for early bird shoppers. Like last year, the Mills has incentives planned for Black Friday shoppers from gift-card giveaways to free treats.

Mall General Manager Randy Ebertowski said the reason for the time change was retailer feedback.

The mall experienced several incidents last Black Friday, including arrests and fights. Though Ebertowski said the incidents had nothing to do with the time change, he said safety remains the mall’s No. 1 priority.

Gurnee Police Cmdr. Jay Patrick said the department supports the mall’s decision to open later on Black Friday, adding that the department is planning increased security measures and patrols.

“We typically do increase police presence in the commercial shopping district during the busy holiday season, and we will continue that strategy this year,” Patrick said.

Ebertowski said mall retailers have been doing a brisk business in the weeks leading up to Black Friday.

The National Retail Federation is projecting a 2 to 3 percent increase in retail sales. Gurnee Mills expects to beat that, Ebertowski said.

With new stores this year including A’GACI, aerie by American Eagle, Stride Rite Outlet, Toys R Us, Wetzels Pretzels, Kenneth Cole, Cinnabon, Build-A-Bear Workshop and the What’s in Season open-air market, “a lot of people are experiencing Gurnee Mills again,” said Ebertowski, noting mall foot traffic has been “exceptional.”

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