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The recent Thanksgiving weekend was anything but a turkey for the Army and Air Force Exchange Service.

Sales in Europe were up 6 percent — or almost $900,000 — from the previous year’s four-day holiday weekend.

Some of the strong sales numbers can be attributed to a series of promotions, such as coupons for up to 20 percent off a single item on a specific day, said AAFES spokeswoman Debbie Byerly. Those making purchases often got discount coupons for the following days, enticing them back.

Some customers obviously took advantage of the discounts to get holiday shopping done early. But there are still more than three weeks left to buy gifts, and Byerly said AAFES hopes to offer options to customers.

Some of that will depend on factors outside AAFES’ control, such as the arrival of more Xbox 360 consoles. Throughout the States, Microsoft has rationed its distribution of one of the hottest gifts this year. Some AAFES stores in Europe got them and quickly sold out. Officials are hoping another shipment comes in before Christmas.

“Once it does, we will rush them into our stores,” Byerly said. AAFES didn’t put all of the consoles it has out for sale, though. Some are currently on the way to Iraq and Afghanistan for those deployed there.

“They should be arriving any day now,” Byerly said.

Electronic items in general sold well at stores in Europe, she said. Part of that is due to the agency’s relatively young customer base. Another factor was that discount coupons encouraged shoppers to buy higher-priced items.

AAFES currently isn’t planning to run a similar promotion during Christmas at all its stores, but some individual stores will do so, Byerly said.

She said the four-day sales numbers were surprising to many AAFES officials, considering thousands of customers are currently serving downrange. But long deployments might have had a benefit for sales as well: extra cash in the pockets of servicemembers who returned from downrange.

The three days after Thanksgiving also were good for the Navy Exchange around the globe as well. Kristine Sturkie, a public affairs officer for NEX, said sales were up 14 percent from the same period a year ago. Specific numbers for Europe couldn’t be broken down by the time Stars and Stripes went to press.

The most popular item at NEX was iPods, with other assorted electronics, such as computers and big-screen televisions, also selling well, Sturkie said.

Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for almost 38 years.
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