Janelle Jennings-Alexander and her sister, Michelle Martyn-Dow, are veteran Black Friday shoppers who have been known to stand in line at 2 a.m. waiting for a store to open so they can pounce on a great deal.
But not this year.
Jennings-Alexander, 37, an English instructor at William Peace University, and Martyn-Dow, 33, a veterinarian who lives in Jonesboro, Ga., didn’t hit their first store until 6:30 a.m. Friday. Jennings-Alexander called it “sort of a lazy Black Friday.”
Although Black Friday historically has been be the biggest shopping day of the year, its place in the zeitgeist has slipped due to shifts in behavior by both consumers and retailers. Consumers are doing more and more of their shopping online, and in recent years stores have offered deep discounts throughout the Thanksgiving weekend – including, at many stores, beginning on Thanksgiving Day – and into December.
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A High Point University poll conducted earlier this month found that 78 percent of adult North Carolinians weren’t planning to shop on Black Friday, 2 percent more than last year’s poll.
These days “there’s more opportunity for deals throughout the holiday season,” said Daniel Hall, assistant professor of economics at High Point. That “is making customers less responsive to the (Black Friday) deals because there are so many out there. They can afford to wait.”
The High Point poll also found that 38 percent of those polled expect to do most of their holiday shopping online this year, up from 27 percent a year ago.
Some shoppers take a hybrid approach. They do their buying, including door busters, online and then pick up their purchases at the store, which lessens the hassle for them and helps reduce the crowds.
Jennings-Alexander and Martyn-Dow said the stores they hit during the first three hours of Friday’s shopping spree – including A.C. Moore, PetSmart and two Target stores – weren’t especially crowded. The most they waited in a checkout line was five minutes.
“This is the quietest Black Friday we’ve ever seen,” said Martyn-Dow.
The National Retail Federation expects about $655.8 billion to be spent during the November and December holiday season, up 3.6 percent over last season. That includes a jump of between 7 percent and 10 percent in online sales.
At Crabtree Valley Mall in Raleigh, parking spaces were in ample supply at dawn Friday.
There was, however, a line of people outside the Pandora jewelry store even after the store opened. The main attraction: the store was giving away limited edition snowflake bangles with a $125 purchase.
Anne Thompson, 46, of Smithfield, stood in line with her daughter and granddaughter. She had already been to a Lowe’s at 6 a.m. to buy two $99.99 shop vacs for $39.99 each. And on Thanksgiving Day, she shopped at Wal-Mart and Target, where she calculates she saved hundreds of dollars on gifts.
“It’s worth the deals to come out,” she said.
The Scout & Molly’s women’s clothing boutique at Raleigh’s North Hills opened Friday at 8 a.m. – two hours earlier than a typical Friday.
“It was busy the first hour,” store owner Lisa Kaufman said about 10 a.m. “It has died down a bit but I’m sure it is going to pick up. It always does.”
Kaufman said she wouldn’t miss working on Black Friday.
“It’s just fun,” said Kaufman, who wore a headband that suspended mistletoe above her head. “We dance. We have mimosas.”
About those mimosas: Kaufman wasn’t kidding. Her store handed out free mimosas on Friday.