Black Friday evolves for shoppers |

Black Friday evolves for shoppers

Gina Barker, The Park Record

Black Friday sales abound, shoppers rushing home with their presents. It’s that time of year again, as retailers recover from the Black Friday throngs, promoting holiday sales and setting the tone for the rest of the biggest holiday for retail.

Picking up cues from national sales strategies, local businesses are extending the sales, catching shoppers before and well after Black Friday. And that is because more shoppers were out looking for deals before Black Friday, as well as after.

The typical Black Friday scene is one where shoppers mob the front doors at midnight, making a mad dash across the big box linoleum floors to grab the hottest toy of the year or some marked-down electronic. Big ticket items fly off retailers’ shelves, ensuring that the end-of-day sales would reflect the surge in activity.

But that image is changing.

"It was fun, and it was crazy," said Nancy Gray, the Tanger Outlets Regional Assets Manager. "I think for all retailers, Black Friday is important. It’s a time where stores get into the black, a crucial time for all retailers."

"I think this past weekend was definitely as busy as prior years, if not busier," she added about the crowds at Tanger Outlets. "People are making it more of a fun tradition than a frenzy of shopping like it has been in years before. It is becoming a family-and-friends event. People were strolling around over the weekend, just shopping and enjoying looking for deals."

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That sentiment was reflected in a national survey from the National Retail Federation, finding that four out of five shoppers used the deep discounts to buy non-gift items, or "self-gifts." Nearly 58 percent bought clothing and accessories, up from 51.4 percent last year. Toys accounted for 34.6 percent of sales. Books, CDs, DVDs and video games made up 39.8 percent and electronics made up 37.7 percent. Nearly a third of shoppers bought gift cards over the weekend, as well, up nearly 10 percent from the last year. "Customer traffic is interesting," said Eric Morgan, the General Manager of Best Buy. "You can never plan for it exactly, but it was definitely a busy weekend."

"The entire holiday season is important for us," he added, "and Black Friday is a way to kick all that off."

Rather than camp outside the cold, more shoppers are taking advantage of earlier door-buster sales, catching deals the night before Black Friday, a fact that’s true for Park City too.

According to a survey from the National Retail Federation, holiday shoppers were out in mass Thanksgiving night. The survey showed that 28 percent of weekend shoppers were at stores by midnight, an increase from the 24.4 percent last year.

"It was wall-to-wall people," said Wal-Mart Store Manager Michael Donahue. "From 8 p.m. to midnight, it was non-stop. We did real well."

Wal-mart offered two separate doorbuster sales, staggering one at 8 p.m. centering sales on toys and another at 10 p.m. that focused on household goods and electronics.

"We stay open now to eliminate that mad rush of people looking for sales," he added. "Now people come in, mingle around, and find whatever item they are looking for I think because of the advertised sale times, that helped pull in more people. Some shoppers do not want to go out at midnight, but 8 p.m. isn’t so awful."

Tanger Outlets had a similar set up this year, opening the center opening at 10 p.m. rather than midnight and re-dubbing the event as the "Moonlight Madness," opposed to last year’s "Midnight Madness." Offering more convenient sales to customers the night before Black Friday is a strategy retailers across the nation are promoting, an effort to stem the growing presence of online sales during the weekend.

"When you talk to customers, they tell you how shopping has really become a tradition," Gray said. "They eat their turkey, play some games and then go shopping."

"The deals on Black Friday are carried throughout the month, and there are always deals to be had," she added.