Although many retailers offered pre-Black Friday sales and events, as well as online after-Thanksgiving deals, there were still local retailers such as Stage, and JC Penney (seen here) with people waiting at the doors to get in early Friday morning. There were shoppers lined up and braving the chilly early-morning temperatures before 6 a.m. today to get inside stores and scoop up holiday deals.
Although stores typically open in the wee hours of the morning on the day after Thanksgiving (named Black Friday because it’s traditionally when retailers turn a profit for the year) many of the big chain stores offered pre-Thanksgiving deals, and some were even open the evening of Thanksgiving to spread out the holiday shopping and to get a jump on sales.
Locally, the super crowds at the local Wal-Mart super center were spread out, and the packed isles and long lines of years past were absent this early Black Friday morning. This could be attributed to pre-Black Friday sales and online shopping deals offered by the chain. Both Stage and JC Penney had crowds gathered by 6 a.m. this morning to scoop up the holiday deals. The Wishing Well, located in the Plaza Shopping Center, had lines backed up at both registers with shoppers waiting to pay for their holiday purchases shortly after their 7 a.m. opening.
It is unclear how many shoppers were drawn to the earlier openings versus the traditional Black Friday hours, but according to an International Council of Shopping Centers-Goldman Sachs survey of 1,000 consumers conducted this month, about 17 percent planned to shop at stores that opened on Thanksgiving, up from 16 percent last year when retailers were testing the earlier hours. Meanwhile, 33 percent intended to shop on Black Friday, down one percentage point from last year. Overall, it’s estimated that sales on Black Friday will be up 3.8 percent to $11.4 billion this year.
The earlier hours are an effort by stores to make shopping as convenient as possible for Americans, who they fear won’t spend freely during the two-month holiday season in November and December because of economic uncertainty. Many shoppers are worried about high unemployment and a package of tax increases and spending cuts known as the “fiscal cliff” that will take effect in January unless Congress passes a budget deal by then. At the same time, Americans have grown more comfortable shopping on websites that offer cheap prices and the convenience of being able to buy something from smartphones, laptops and tablet computers from just about anywhere.
That’s put added pressure on brick-and-mortar stores, which can make up to 40 percent of their annual revenue during the holiday shopping season, to give consumers a compelling reason to leave their homes. That’s becoming more difficult: the National Retail Federation, an industry trade group, estimates that overall sales in November and December will rise 4.1 percent this year to $586.1 billion, or about flat with last year’s growth. But the online part of that is expected to rise 15 percent to $68.4 billion, according to Forrester Research.