Black Friday kicks off US holiday shopping

Nov 23 2012, 11:57 IST
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SummarySome retailers, like Best Buy Co Inc are keeping Black Friday on Friday, waiting until midnight to open.

early openings encroach on their Thanksgiving holiday. A petition asking Target to save Thanksgiving had 371,606 supporters as of Thursday afternoon.

Still, at a Target on Chicago's northwest Side, the first person waiting in line Thursday night was someone who worked at the store, Elsa Acevedo, 46, who finished her shift at 430 am and lined up at about 2.30 pm to buy a 50-inch Westinghouse television.

As for the earlier opening, I just think it takes people away from their families, she said. But she added that a midnight opening also pulled workers away from Thanksgiving celebrations because they had to prepare the stores to open.

Many shoppers lured into stores by earlier openings on Thursday may just be window-shopping.

More than 50 percent of consumers will do some form of show-rooming during the Black Friday weekend, said Kevin Sterneckert, vice president of retail research at Gartner Group.

They will buy things because they looked at it in the store. They will touch and feel what they are interested in and then buy it online on Monday, either from the same retailer or a different online retailer, Sterneckert said.

At a Kmart on 34th Street in Manhattan earlier Thursday, Charles Montague, a 55-year-old mover, was browsing the aisles just to kill time.

I don't holiday shop, he said emphatically. I buy stuff all year long, not during some man-made holiday.

Some were not waiting for Monday to buy on the Internet. Online Thanksgiving 2012 sales were already up 17.8 per cent over Thanksgiving 2011 for the same period, measured through 9 pm EST, according to IBM.

The results matter

The stakes are high for US retailers, which can earn more than a third of their annual sales in the holiday season.

Consumers heading into the holiday shopping season remain worried about high unemployment and possible tax increases and government spending cuts in 2013. Also, lasting effects of Sandy, the storm that lashed the densely populated East Coast in late October, could cut into how much shoppers can spend on the holidays.

According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, two-thirds of shoppers said they were planning to spend the same amount as last year or were unsure about spending plans, while 21 per cent intend to spend less and 11 per cent plan to spend more.

My family decided not to buy (Chanukah) presents this year - only for the kids. It's too expensive, said graduate student Danielle Slade, 29, from Jericho, Long Island.

Still, the

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