Big biz, some black eyes on Black Friday
Indeed, about 600 shoppers were in line at a Target store in Brooklyn in New York when it opened at midnight. By the time it opened at midnight, nearly 2,000 shoppers wrapped around a Best Buy store in St. Petersburg, Fla. Mall of America, the nation's largest mall in North America, had 15,000 shoppers for its midnight opening. And more than 9,000 people were outside the flagship Macy's store in New York's Herald Square at its midnight opening, up from 7,000 a year ago.
"I came here for the deals," said Sidiki Traore, 59, from Roosevelt Island, N.Y. who bought three shirts for $50 at the Macy's. He also went to Toys R Us for its 9 p.m. opening on Thanksgiving and bought three toys for $106 for his four-year-old son.
In addition to opening earlier than usual this year, some stores offered to match their competitors' prices, rolled out layaway programs or offered more door-buster deals than last year.
Emmanuel Merced and his brother showed up at a Best Buy in New York at 3 p.m. on Wednesday so they could be the first in line when it opened at midnight Thursday to grab a Sharp 42-inch TV for $199.99, a PlayStation 3 with games for $199.99 and wireless headphones for $30.
Merced said he likes camping out for Black Friday and figured he saved 50 percent.
"I like the experience of it," said Merced, who plans to spend $3,000 to $4,000 on gifts this season.
The crowds are good news for retailers, many of which depend on the busy holiday shopping season for up to 40 percent of their annual revenue.
To be sure, not every place was full on Black Friday. With so many major stores opening at midnight, many people stayed up late and shopped early. Then there were those who stuck to their normal routine of going to stores that opened later Friday morning. That left a lull in the hours just before and after daybreak.
At a Target on Chicago's North Side, crowds were light four hours after the store opened at midnight. And door-buster deals, including the typically quick-to-sell-out TVs and game systems, remained piled up in their boxes. Shoppers pushed carts through mostly empty aisles while thumbing through circulars, and employees in Santa hats roamed the store. There was no Christmas music or any music playing.
Rebecca Carter, a graduate assistant, began Black Friday shopping at 11 p.m. on Thursday and left Target around 4 a.m. carrying a bag full of pillows. Carter said the crowds were noticeably lighter this year as she and a friend picked up a 32-inch TV for $180 and a laptop for $198, along with toys and pajamas.
"It's quiet," she said. "It was shocking."
For this holiday shopping season, retailers are hoping to rake in $466 billion in sales, so the competition in getting every shopping dollar is tough -- hence why Black Friday is turning into Black Thursday.
"Customers have been telling us for a long time they wanted to come in earlier," said Amy Adonis of Best Buy, told CBS News. She added: "It's a whole multichannel business. People can shop online, shop from home, shop in the store, shop online while they are in the store. It just works out great."
Some Occupy Wall Street protesters, which turned up for the Macy's midnight opening, were expected to plan flash mobs and other events later in the day in places like Chicago, Washington, D.C. and Boise, Idaho to urge people to reconsider shopping at national chains on Black Friday.
In San Francisco, a few dozen people gathered in Union Square to tell shoppers that they should spend their money on education rather than buying clothing and electronics.
About 20 Occupy Sacramento protesters marched from a park to a small downtown mall, chanting that shoppers should support local businesses. They made a stop inside a Macy's department store, where the group's leader asked shoppers through a bullhorn not to make purchases there.
In Harrisburg, Pa., Occupy Harrisburg said a member of its group has been arrested at a city mall on Black Friday over a zombie outfit.
Lower Allen Township police said a young woman was arrested after refusing mall security's request to remove the facial makeup. The Capital City Mall bans outfits that obscure a person's face.
The protester, Jenn Hara, said she was merely asking security for more information about the mall's regulation when she was handcuffed and charged with misdemeanor trespassing.
The U.S. Small Business Administration is also promoting Small Business Saturday, which encourages people to shop at smaller, mom-and-pop stores on the day after Black Friday.
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