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In the age of online retailing, Black Friday still draws a crowd

Joseph Pisani, Anne D & # 39; Innocence and Claire Galofaro, Associated Press

Published Saturday, November 24, 2018 8:15 EST

NEW YORK (Reuters) – It would have been easy to hook up your home computers with turkey leftovers and take advantage of Black Friday offerings that most retailers now offer online.

But across the country, thousands of shoppers crowded the stores on Thanksgiving or woke up before dawn the next day to take part in this most famous ritual of American consumerism.

Shoppers spent their holidays lined up outside the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., At 4pm. Thursday, and the crowd had increased to 3,000 when the doors opened at 5 am on Friday. In Ohio, a group of women were so determined that they booked a hotel room Thursday night to be closer to the shops. In New York, a woman went straight from a dance club to a department store in the middle of the night.

Many buyers have said that Black Friday is as much about the show as it is about the door sales business.

Kati Anderson said she stopped at the Cumberland Mall in Atlanta on Friday morning for discounted clothing as well as "people watching." Her friend, Katie Nasworthy, said she went to the mall instead of shopping online because she likes to see the Christmas decorations.

"It does not even look like Christmas until now," said Kim Bryant, shopping in suburban Denver with his daughter and his daughter's friend, who lined up at 5:40 am, then rushed in when the doors opened. 6 am.

Brick and mortar stores have worked hard to prove they can counter the competition from the online giant Amazon. From Macy's to Target and Walmart, retailers are combining their online and store shopping experiences with new tools such as digital maps on smartphones and more options for shoppers to shop online and shop in stores. And customers, frustrated with long queues of boxes, can check out Walmart and other stores with a store clerk on the shelves.

Consumers have almost doubled their online orders they bought at Thanksgiving stores on Wednesday, according to Adobe Analytics, which tracks online spending.

Priscilla Page, 28, entered her order number at a newsstand near a Walmart entrance in Louisville, Kentucky. She found a good deal online for a gift for her boyfriend and then came to the store to get it back.

"I've never done Black Friday-shopped before," she said, as employees handed in their purse minutes later. "I'm not the most patient person ever." Crowds, you talk, wait, it's not really my thing.

The year-end shopping season presents a major test for the US economy, whose global growth so far this year has been based on an explosion of consumer spending. Americans increased their spending during the first half of 2018 at the strongest pace in four years, but gains in retail sales have declined recently. Total sales next month will be a good indicator if consumers simply stopped to catch their breath or feel less optimistic about the economy in 2019.

The National Retail Federation, the largest retailer in the country, expects retail sales to grow 4.8 percent in 2017, totaling $ 720.89 billion. Sales growth slowed from last year's 5.3% but remains healthy.

The retail economy is also leaning towards online shopping. In the past 12 months, purchases from non-retail stores like Amazon rose 12.1%, as sales at traditional department stores fell 0.3%. Adobe Analytics said Thursday that Thanksgiving has set a record $ 3.7 billion in online retail sales, a 28 percent increase over the same period a year earlier. For Black Friday, online spending was on track to reach more than $ 6.4 billion, according to Adobe.

Target reported that buyers bought expensive items such as TVs, iPads and Apple Watches. Among the most popular toy offerings were Lego, L.O.L. Surprise from MGA Entertainment and Mattel's Barbie. The company said gamers have taken video game consoles like the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Others reported stumbling into darker economies. In a Cincinnati mall, Bethany Carrington got a full $ 29 trimmer for the needs of her husband's nose hair and, for $ 17, "the greatest Mr. Potato Head I've ever seen."

Black Friday was transformed from a single day when people got up early to make a full month of offers. Many of the top stores, including Macy's, Walmart and Target, started their business on Thanksgiving night. But some families are following their Black Friday traditions.

"We've boycotted Thursday's groceries, that's family day, but the experience on Friday is just for fun," said Michelle Wise, shopping at Park Meadows Mall in Denver with her daughters, Ashleigh of 16 years and 14 years. Avery

By noon on Friday, there were no widespread reports of the chaos inspired by deals that became central to Black Friday folklore – fights between televisions with discounts or bargains toward coveted sale items.

Two men in an Alabama mall went into a fight, and one of the men opened fire, firing on the other man and a 12-year-old spectator, both of whom were taken to the hospital with injuries. The police shot and killed the sniper. Officials did not say whether the incident was related to Black Friday's purchases or whether it resulted from an unrelated dispute.

Candice Clark arrived at Walmart in Louisville with her 19-year-old daughter Desiree Douthitt, looked around and watched as it all seemed calm. They have long been devotees of the Black Friday negotiations and have faced the crowd and chaos for years. Clark's son, about 10 years ago, was hit on the head with a frying pan as shoppers fought for him. They saw a woman toss a taser and threaten to use it on anyone who appeared between her and her desired fondue pot.

They watched over the years as the traditional folly of the day dissipated as purchases went online and stores expanded their sales from a full day to a full-day marathon.

"It seems quite normal here," said Roy Heller, when he arrived at Louisville Walmart, somewhat suspicious of Black Friday's purchases, but pleasantly surprised to discover that he did not even have to stand in line.

He tried to buy a toy robot for his son on Amazon, but he was exhausted. On Friday morning, he frantically searched the internet and found a single robot at a Walmart 40 miles from his home. He bought it online and arrived an hour later to pick it up.

The employees handed over his purse, he held it and declared, "I won the last one in Louisville!"


Galofaro is based in Louisville, Kentucky. Associated Press writers Jeff Martin in Atlanta, Ryan Tarinelli in Dallas, Katie Foody in Denver, Angie Wang in Cincinnati, Amy Taxin of Costa Mesa, Calif., Also contributed to this report.

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