Black Friday shoppers get early, orderly jump on holiday spending
Published: Thursday, November 22, 2012 at 11:41 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, November 22, 2012 at 11:41 p.m.
For Kimberly Golden, all-night Black Friday shopping is becoming something of a family tradition.
Last year, she bundled up her 6-month-old daughter, Ada, put her in a stroller and went to Old Navy, Target, Toys “R” Us and The Oaks Mall with her cousin. At 6 a.m., they met her aunt for breakfast at Chick-fil-A, and then they went back to the stores until noon.
This year, Golden and her husband, Adam, were back at Toys “R” Us with Ada, who wore a pink Gap hoodie and grew restless in her stroller.
They got there at 8 p.m. on Thursday, when the store opened, and were waiting until the line died down. They’d flagged the Barbie Power Wheel and Monster High Dolls, which were half off. Later, Kimberly Golden said she planned to go to Macy’s to get a watch for her son and then Walmart for some DVDs.
“We probably spend more money on gas than at the stores,” she said. “It’s one night of horrid shopping, and you’re knocked out. But if you do it with friends and family, it’s fun.”
Toys “R” Us was one of four Gainesville stores that opened at 8 p.m. on Thursday, followed by Target at 9 and Best Buy, Kohl’s, Macy’s and Belk at midnight. Several other stores planned to open by 5 and 6 a.m. today.
Last year, midnight on Thanksgiving was the earliest stores opened, but retailers decided to start early this year to stay competitive. Allen Crabtree, the general manager at Sears, said people had been lined up since 1 p.m.
“It’s the largest crowd we’ve seen in years,” he said.
Target store team leader Brian Jablonski said the retailer had several deals on electronics — especially LED televisions, with which a lot of the early shoppers seemed to be walking out of the store.
“Black Friday is the one day where you can really sell everything you have. It’s a great time of year to have everything available,” he said.
According to the Florida Retail Federation, Black Friday weekend can account for 20-40 percent of holiday sales. Nationally, the number of Black Friday weekend shoppers starting on midnight surged from just 3 percent in 2009 to 25 percent last year, according to the National Retail Federation.
Adam Golden said he started doing Black Friday shopping a few years ago, when he needed a new wardrobe after his company required more formal work attire. He’s an early riser anyway, so he goes to J.C. Penney as soon as it opens.
“I can spend $150 for $500 worth of clothes. I just replenish my wardrobe every year,” he said.
At the front of the Target line was Brody Dean, of Gainesville, who was there to buy a Playstation 3 and an iPod nano. He got in line at 3:30 p.m. Target employees gave everyone in line maps of the store so they could shop strategically. Dean said his little brother kept him company for the 5½-hour wait. Otherwise, “I played on my phone, talked on the phone and made some friends.”
Target was letting in about 50 people at a time, about every 30 seconds. Jablonski said this approach — the first year the store adopted it — was going smoothly, and there were no rowdy shoppers.
“We expect a nice steady crowd. We might see a little dip between 12 and 4, but that allows us to put the store back together again,” he said.
Target, like many stores, had staggered promotions for shoppers coming in later streams.
“We want to make sure everyone has an equal opportunity to get some good deals,” Jablonski said.
He said he expects this year’s number of early Black Friday shoppers to top last year’s 1,500.
Shoppers said they were surprised at how quickly they got through the Target checkout. Jennifer Brown, of Keystone Heights, said it took her less than five minutes to get through. “There was no bottlenecking. “I love it here. It’s so orderly,” she said. “I got every single thing on my list.”
Contact Kristine Crane at 338-3119 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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