Black Friday, Day 2: Shoppers say earlier openings spread out frenzy

Posted Friday, Nov. 23, 2012  comments  Print Reprints
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It was barely 8 a.m. Friday, and Tamiko and Grace Daniels of Arlington were already close to wrapping up their shopping, having started at 10 p.m. Thursday.

Resting outside the J.C. Penney at The Parks in Arlington mall, the mother-daughter team expressed satisfaction with the growing trend of earlier and earlier openings by retailers on Thanksgiving Day.

"I think spreading it out, it's not such a frenzy," Tamiko Daniels said. "It wasn't a madhouse like last year," she said of the family's day, which started at the Wal-Mart on Little Road in southwest Arlington and included stops at Macy's, Penney's, Finish Line, Foot Locker, Lids, Dick's Sporting Goods and Shiekh Shoes, not to mention refueling stops that included coffee at QuikTrip.

"Had to have that," Tamiko said, laughing.

Score one for Black Friday's overflowing into Thursday. After testing how shoppers would respond to earlier hours last year, stores such as Target and Toys R Us this year opened on Thanksgiving evening.

The response seems enough to suggest that the "Friday" in Black Friday is becoming an anachronism.

And it's a change that Gwynn Redding of Grand Prairie said she likes.

"I totally agree with the early openings. The guys are all in front of the TV anyway watching football. It's a good time to go shopping," Redding said Friday morning at Paragon Outlets Grand Prairie. The discount mall, which opened in August, was seeing steadily growing traffic Friday morning despite its outdoors setting and blustery weather.

This year, Wal-Mart created a staggered start, with "doorbuster" deals offered at 8 p.m., 10 p.m. and midnight Thursday. The Danielses chose the 10 p.m. shift, leading to Tamiko's observation that the stores were less jammed -- at least compared with her experience hitting a Wal-Mart opening last year.

Plano-based Penney was something of an outlier among major retailers, holding off until 6 a.m. Friday to open its stores. Shoppers apparently were nowhere near tapped out by then. Lines at checkout counters at The Parks store were long at about 9 a.m.

"They were really packed," said shopper Kathy McElroy of Arlington, who said she and her daughter arrived at the store about 7:30 a.m. "I hope it's a good year for everybody."

The National Retail Federation estimates that holiday sales will increase 4.1 percent this year, to $586 billion. Last year's sales increase was 5.6 percent. The industry group's 2012 forecast is based on an economic model using such indicators as housing data, unemployment and previous monthly retail sales reports.

Ever-increasing sales despite merchants' promotion of bigger and bigger discounts expose what one University of Texas at Arlington marketing professor thinks is an underappreciated element of Black Friday sales.

When shoppers hit on an unexpectedly low price, Ritesh Saini said, they don't necessarily pocket the savings.

"Typically, people make it up by buying more. Their budgets do not change," Saini said.

The two-day event can even serve as something of a do-over for some.

Oliver Mitchell of Keller got to the Wal-Mart on Precinct Line Road in Hurst at 10 p.m. Thursday, hoping to a 50-inch television that was going on sale at 5 a.m. Friday. Then he learned that only seven were in stock, and he was No. 10 on the list.

"I went home and went to sleep," Mitchell said. After a good night's rest, he restarted his Black Friday shopping at 8 a.m. at Big Lots to pick up presents for his kids.

About 90 minutes later he was in the Target in Watauga, pondering several Samsung, LG, Apex and Element televisions that remained from a doorbuster promotion the previous evening. He couldn't decide whether to spring for the $279 Element 40-inch television.

"I really wanted a 42-inch or above, since this is for my patio," Mitchell said. "I'm just kind of debating and seeing if the price is worth it or not."

Yet to come is Cyber Monday, the online world's version of the holiday selling season kickoff.

Online sales are expected to rise 15 percent to $68.4 billion, according to Forrester Research. The U.S. Postal Service said it expects to deliver 365 million packages this holiday season.

Both online and in-store shopping were on display by the Highbaugh family of Mansfield, who hit Paragon Outlets Friday morning. Donna Highbaugh and daughter Megan Pickard were hitting the stores, while daughter Laura Highbaugh, visiting from her home near Indianapolis, had been buying online.

This report includes material from The Associated Press and Bloomberg News.

Jim Fuquay, 817-390-7552

Twitter: @jimfuquay

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