This year’s Black Friday shopping season is well underway and all the traditional signs are still there. There is still the shoving, the long lines, the busy traffic and the incredible bargains. However, Black Friday is calmer and not as loud as in years past due to the many stores that opened on Thanksgiving Day. Over a dozen major retailers, including Toys R Us and Target, opened on Thursday and had plans to stay open through Friday.
This Thanksgiving marked the first time that Macy’s opened on the holiday. Other retailers such as Old Navy, Gap, and Banana Republic opened earlier on Thanksgiving Day than they did in 2012. Many stores began offering discounts normally reserved for Black Friday earlier in the month. A New York City Kmart Store was already filled with shoppers at 6 a.m. instead of them being lined up outside waiting for the store to open.
The National Retail Federation is forecasting retail sales to be at $602 billion during the final two months of 2013, a 3.9 percent growth. Last year’s rate of growth was 3.5 percent.
Not that there still wasn’t large crowds or some pushing and shoving. The first wave of shoppers was estimated to be around 140 million people. There were some minor skirmishes, including one at a Rialto, California Wal Mart where a police officer was hurt. Another news report tells of a shoplifting incident where police shot the driver of a vehicle that was dragging another policeman. The policeman suffered an injury to his shoulder. Best Buy, Walmart, and Target are among many stores that have increased their usual security for this weekend.
It has been five years since the most violent Black Friday on record. On that day in 2008, a Walmart employee was trampled to death by eager shoppers. Two men died shooting one another at a California Toys R Us. According to Walmart CEO Bill Simon,shoppers on Thanksgiving Day at Walmart were much calmer and less frenetic than what they usually encounter. From 6 to 10 pm on Thursday, Simon says his stores conducted 10 million transactions. One major difference from the opening of last year’s shopping season was the number of families out shopping on Thanksgiving Day and staying home on Black Friday.
Executive vice president of retail operations for Disney, Paul Gainer, said that the stores visited on Thursday night was calm as a result of stores opening earlier. At Macy’s Department Store in New York City,the flagship of the chain, records were broken as 15,000 shoppers were in line when the store opened for the first time ever on Thanksgiving Day at 8 p.m.
Toys R Us also reported a very good turnout for Black Friday in all their stores nationwide. The sales are not over. Toys R Us and other stores plan on kicking off Cyber Monday sales on December 2. Rest assured, many store owners will go to sleep tonight having had a much calmer Black Friday than they can ever remember having in past years.
By Rick Hope