Orange County

Poll finds majority of NC residents don't plan to shop over holiday

As many in the Triangle worked to re-create a Thanksgiving in the style of Norman Rockwell’s classic “Freedom from Want” painting, others mixed something a little different in with the time-honored turkey and trimmings traditions.

Hundreds of runners lined up first thing in the morning in Durham for the Renaissance Center Turkey Trot – races that varied in distance from a mile to eight kilometers.

Others took long hikes through the state parks, working up appetites for feasts awaiting them.

Eager shoppers hunted for deals, and about 15 people camped outside the Best Buy in Cary’s Crossroads Plaza with hopes of scoring discounted electronics when the doors opened at 5 p.m.

Karen Schinsky, a mother of three, mixed the traditional and nontraditional on Thanksgiving day in her family’s Orange County home just north of Calvander.

In the morning, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade played on the living room TV as Schinsky and her 14-year-old daughter Jessica watched for a familiar face.

Dorian Alexis, a Carrboro teen who competes with Jessica on the Chapel Hill-based Skipsations jump rope team, was one of the 108 jumpers, ranging in age from 12 to 24, parading through New York City with Jumpers United for Macy’s Parade – representing the states of Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, Virginia, Texas and Washington.

Jessica wanted to support her teammate and cheer her on from miles away.

Mother, daughter, brothers, dad and family friends from the neighborhood waited and waited and waited as float after float went by. With their eyes trained toward the TV screen, Karen, Jessica, Matt, 17, John, 9, and dad Mike outlined Thanksgiving Day plans that did not include sitting around a big family table with a glistening browned turkey in the center.

The ads on TV between the Macy’s parade segments had portrayed warm family gatherings that made Karen Schinsky a little misty-eyed. Though she had cooked a turkey breast, stuffing and a cranberry concoction for her husband and children on Wednesday night, their Thanksgiving day would not look like those in the endless stream of feelgood vignettes.

“Not everyone gets to have that,” Schinsky pointed out.

The couple live miles away from extended family. Christmas is typically when they have their big holiday gathering.

This year, they were going to eat their Thanksgiving meal at Cracker Barrel (Karen Schinsky likes its nostalgic feel) and then go to nearby shopping outlets to get a jump on Black Friday sales.

The stores may not be all that crowded. A High Point University poll found that 78 percent of North Carolinians were not planning to shop on Thanksgiving. An almost equal number, 76 percent, said they weren’t going to shop on Friday either.

Many retailers have spent much of the past two decades opening earlier and earlier to pull in as many customers as possible. But the move in recent years to open on Thanksgiving day itself caused a backlash. So while some stores still opened Thursday evening, other retailers, including Staples and H&M, chose to stay closed on the holiday this year. Most stores will open early on Friday, but REI plans to keep its store doors closed with a message that employees are being encouraged to spend their day off outside.

Whatever decision retailers made, it likely won’t hurt sales. The HPU poll found that the majority of its respondents said they’d spend the same amount this year as last – an average of $1,009. Black Friday has long ceased to be the busiest shopping day of the year.

A recent Deloitte survey found that 52 percent of consumers said they no longer rely on Black Friday as much as they used to for their holiday shopping.

Many are just waiting for Cyber Monday.

Anne Blythe: 919-836-4948, @AnneBlythe1