Retailers were breathlessly ringing up purchases early and often as
Black Friday got off to a roaring start with record electric online
sales numbers and lines at brick-and-mortar stores.
As of noon ET,
Black Friday online sales were up 13.1% over last year, according to
IBM Smarter Commerce, which uses its IBM Benchmark to track the websites
of more than 500 leading U.S. retailers.
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reports that the number of shoppers using their phones to visit retail
sites was closing in on 30%. And while the iPad ruled "couch commerce"
on Thanksgiving night, the iPhone was winning in stores today. IPhone
traffic was at 11.4% of total online traffic at retail sites, versus
8.9% for iPads.
compete with online retailers, brick-and-mortar stores tried to make
shopping as convenient as possible for consumers; many opened earlier
Thanksgiving night to draw in shoppers who were unwilling to wait until
midnight or the early-morning hours on Friday.
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This year, Toys R Us opened at 8 p.m., an hour earlier than last
year. Sears, which didn't open on Thanksgiving last year, also opened at
8 p.m. Target opened at 9 p.m., three hours earlier than last year.
R Us shoppers, at least those lining up at the retailer's Times Square
store, were all smiles in anticipation of the Black Friday sale, says
CEO Jerry Storch, who greeted customers at the store Thursday night.
was the happiest and most fun crowd I've ever seen on Black Friday," he
says. Once inside, shoppers snatched up the Tabeo kids tablet for
$149.99 - they were "flying off the shelf," Storch says. Lego products,
the Wii U and the Skylanders: Giants video game were also going fast, he
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rang up almost 10 million transactions through midnight as customers
picked up bicycles, TVs and video games. That's almost 5,000 items per
second, the company said.
At a Walmart in Chantilly, Va., Dan
Ziewlinski was having his first Black Friday shopping experience and
said it was a little overwhelming. He brought his son, Jack, 11, to help
him score a 32" Emerson TV for Christmas.
"It's a surprise," says
Ziewlinski, 47, covering Jack's ears. The two headed over to Walmart
after cleaning up Thanksgiving dinner. They decided to buy the TV and an
group of people benefitting from stores opening earlier last night:
those looking to shop today. Lines outside Kmart this morning were much
shorter for the 5 a.m. reopening, after the chain closed briefly at 3
a.m. to restock inventory.
"It's a more pleasant Black Friday
experience," says Tom Aiello, a division vice president for Sears
Holdings, which owns Kmart. "The holiday crowds aren't out en masse..."
at Kmart's 1,000-plus stores across the nation averaged from 400 to 600
shoppers for the 8 p.m. opening last night, falling to about 150 to 200
when stores reopened this morning, Aiello says. Sears traffic surged at
4 a.m. "when the next round of doorbusters kicked in," he says. Last
night its stores, which also opened at 8 p.m., had up to 1,000 people in
In Rockland County, N.Y., Stu and April Schatz went to the
Shops at the Garden State Plaza mall in Paramus, N.J., which didn't open
until 7 a.m. on Black Friday, because they didn't want to deal with the
crowds that show up for earlier openings.
"It's so much more
civilized going in the morning," said April Schatz, a teacher. "We
wanted to enjoy our (Thanksgiving) evening."
Still, malls that opened Friday morning had no shortage of customers.
Westfarms in Farmington, Conn., had several hundred people at each
entrance when it opened at 6 a.m. Teen apparel and shoes often was the
merchandise of choice - several malls reported the longest lines at
stores including Hollister, Aeropostale and Foot Locker.
At International Plaza in Tampa, Fla., Urban Outfitters had a line of almost 500 people waiting when the mall opened at 8 a.m.
150 of Disney's 220 stores opened at midnight, says Paul Gainer,
executive vice president of global Disney Stores. The ones that don't
are in malls that can't accommodate the early entrance.
ago, when the chain started the midnight openings, few other stores
did. "Now it's really a mall experience where everybody is
participating," says Gainer.
Still, Gainer says Disney Stores don't plan to keep pushing back its opening times further into Thanksgiving.
"We feel really good about that midnight opening," he says. The only thing holding the company back from more midnight openings is the fact that many of the malls its stores are in don't open that early.
Not everyone is thrilled with the earlier store openings on Thanksgiving as several retail employee groups are protesting the change.
Employees of retailers including Target, Walmart and Toys R Us have started or signed petitions on Change.org for Thanksgiving day off.
A New York City-based, union-backed group of retail workers called
Retail Action Project planned protests on Thanksgiving in front of
several stores, including Ann Taylor, Forever 21 and others that were
opening at midnight on Black Friday and earlier.
"It shows that
the companies are not valuing their workers. They're looking to their
workers to squeeze out more profits," said Carrie Gleason, director of
Retail Action Project.
The holiday shopping season is crucial for
retailers and the National Retail Federation estimates that holiday
sales will rise 4.1% to $586.1 billion this year.
"This is the most optimistic forecast NRF has released since the recession," NRF CEO Mathew Shay said in a statement.
day after Thanksgiving is called Black Friday because it 's when
retailers traditionally get out of the red and turn a profit for the
year.The NRF estimates that up to 147 million shoppers will visit stores
and shop online over the Black Friday weekend.