’Twas the morning after Thanksgiving, and all through the town, some people shopped while others lay down.
With retailers nationwide opening earlier to push Black Friday promotions, shoppers were out in droves on Friday morning.
“They were waiting out there before 6 o’clock, saying ‘Are you open yet?’” Bath and Body Works sales associate Susan Phillips said. The store’s checkout line extended all the way to the front door shortly after opening at 5:45 a.m.
Phillips said the store’s staff wanted to open at midnight to catch shoppers coming out of Walmart but that corporate leaders wouldn’t let them.
The sales associate expressed her desire to return to work so quickly after the holiday.
“The earlier the better,” she said, adding that the shoppers who head out for Black Friday are motivated to find the best deals.
“It’s the start of the shopping madness — this is just the tip of the iceberg,” Phillips said in between greeting shoppers Friday morning. “They’ve been frugal, but now they’re looking for value.”
A National Retail Federation survey released Nov. 17 showed that more than 152 million people planned to shop this weekend, up from 138 million who planned to do so last year. The group estimates that holiday sales will increase 2.8 percent this year to $465 billion.
Down at the other end of the plaza, customers loaded up on electronic gifts and gadgets at Radio Shack, which opened at 5:30 a.m.
Store manager Ellie Quinn said that most customers were in search of deals on headphones and tablet computers. But unlike retailers that stayed open overnight and offered “really, really good deals on some TVs,” Radio Shack is more focused on continuing to offer quality products without the mayhem, she said.
“It’s exciting and terrifying at the same time,” she said about working the post-Thanksgiving sales. “You never know what’s going to happen. … People have lost sleep and tempers get short, and sometimes you run out of the items.”
Quinn said she heard stories about men fighting over $3 appliances and that one man in Statesboro was stabbed over a blender during Thursday night shopping.
“It was entertaining,” she said. “I like the stories.”
According to reports from the Associated Press, some shoppers in various parts of the country did resort to violence to gain competitive advantages.
In Los Angeles, authorities reported that 20 people at a local Walmart suffered minor injuries when a woman used pepper spray to gain a competitive shopping advantage shortly after the store opened.
Early Friday in Fayetteville, N.C., gunfire erupted at Cross Creek Mall, and police said they’re looking for the two suspects involved.
Separately, police said two women have been injured and a man charged after a fight broke out at an upstate New York Walmart.
And a central Florida man is behind bars after a fight broke out at a jewelry counter in Walmart in Kissimmee, Fla.
One way to avert the chaos is to shop online during Cyber Monday, Quinn said. She anticipated great markdowns on tablets and e-readers.
“It’s like you get two chances to really try to get products,” Quinn said. “The best part is a lot of time there’s free shipping.”
As for the retail outlook, she agreed that the coming weeks should bring a boost in business.
“Now the focus is on finishing your Christmas shopping and getting ready, because Christmas will be here before you know it,” Quinn said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.