Much of the national news coverage of retail’s Black Friday and expanding the traditional sales day to Thursday has characterized the event as one more thing eating away family time across America.
Local shoppers appear willing to take some time away from family before the holidays on a chance to buy presents they may not otherwise have been able to afford. They also indicated getting shopping done now leaves them more time when the holidays arrive.
Sara Hill, Debbie Hill and Lacy Yarbrough stood in line at Walmart Friday at 5 a.m. smiling. They said they had started shopping on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. in search of a Power Wheel. Debbie Hill said the sales give them a chance to see each other and visit with friends and family they had not seen lately.
“I am so tired, but it’s worth it,” said Sara Hill, who noted the efforts would make her family’s holiday just a little bit brighter.
Yarbrough said she had a close call Thursday when she had arrived early to get in line and was told the line didn’t start until hours later to get tickets for special sale merchandise. She said when she returned all the tickets had been given out but was able to buy a ticket for the item for $20 from a customer. Moments later she lost this ticket but found it just in time.
“To tell you the truth it’s a lot of fun just watching people,” said Debbie Hill. “You either like it (Black Friday) or you don’t. It’s for family, but I’d come even if I didn’t want anything and we’ve been at this since 5 p.m. yesterday (Thursday).”
Yesterday marked the first time Kmart shopper Johnny Easter had participated in Black Friday shopping. The Mount Airy native said he was a single father who put in a time off request three months ago so he could shop for his children, 9-year-old Jontae, 7-year-old Ayshi and Kysten, who is 5.
“I love Christmas,” said Easter, who works at Parrish Tire in Mount Airy. “This is my first time being able to be off and do this on Black Friday and it’s going good. I do wish some things that had price tags knocked off them could have been re-priced quicker.”
A long line had formed in front of J.C. Penney on Friday at 5 a.m. mostly composed of shoppers who hoped to get special holiday tokens, which could be verified online later for possible prizes. Janet Sumner enthusiastically explained many stores staggering sale times since Thursday had helped them.
“We would like to name it white Thursday,” joked Sumner. “We do this every year. It’s a tradition and I’ve found a lot of good buys this time. The prices really get me going. We found boots that normally sell for $67 for $19.99.”
Sumner said her family breaks out the store sale papers right after the Thanksgiving meal. She said that is the time to pick what to buy and decide when and where to be.
“You have to get there early to get in the shortest lines,” explained Sumner. “White Thursday was fantastic. We stood in line for an hour and 15 minutes to get one of 250 gift certificates here on white Thursday. That was a huge line. This one is nothing.”
Vanessa Vaught and Julie Frye were finishing up their shopping at Belk on Friday. They had started off at 8 p.m. Thursday and then went to Winston-Salem to shop before returning to Belk.
“We did really good this year,” said Vaught. “We planned ahead. The way the sales were staggered this year really helped. You had time to get from one place to the next. We have a lot of fun doing this; it’s a rush.”
Vaught said the biggest incentive for her was to be able to economically get all of her holiday shopping done. She said while it meant being away from family, getting the shopping done early would leave more time with her family at Christmas.
The National Retail Federation (NRF) estimates 147 million people nationwide will have shopped Friday through Saturday, down from 152 million on Black Friday last year. The federation forecasts a 4.1 percent increase in retail sales during November and December this year. This is down from the $152 million or 5.6 percent increase in 2011.
“So far our sales have increased over last year,” said Kmart Assistant Manager Melissa Edwards “We’ve seen an astonishing amount of customers, and it’s been awesome.”
Walmart Manager Wayne Mosley at noon Friday said final sales figures had not yet come in for what has become a two-day sales event this year.
“We don’t have all the information yet, but it looks like we’re going to be close (to projected sales),” said Mosley. “We have to look at both days together before we know how we are really doing.”
Belk Store Manager Tenisha Bridges sounded upbeat Friday about her store making projected sales.
“We were ahead of our projected sales figures,” said Bridges. “I expect us to exceed our numbers from last year. We had a phenomenal opening this morning. Some of our customers have already gone home and come back this afternoon which proves they’ve had a good time.”
Reach David Broyles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1952.