Black Friday becomes just another family-shopping day
Shoppers flocked to Black Friday sales at stores and online across the country and in the Puget Sound, despite the rainy weather, kicking off what many expect to be the best retail season in years.
Seattle Times staff and wire services
The weather didn’t discourage Tolani Ogumyoku from making his first Black Friday run ever, hunting for deals on new work clothes in downtown Seattle.
He started at 5 a.m. at Macy’s, and by 8 a.m., when Nordstrom opened, he already had four bags of new wardrobe items.
His favorite: a black pair of socks patterned with colorful flowers. They were $12, down from $40 at Nordstrom Rack.
“The streets are going to be on fire when I wear these,” he said as the doors to Nordstrom opened.
On the Eastside, Bellevue Square Mall was buzzing, and dozens of well-heeled shoppers combed through Neiman Marcus at The Bravern. The parking lots at Target and Kohl’s in Redmond were full, but the heavy rain left plenty of empty parking spaces early Friday at the open-air Redmond Town Center shopping mall.
Black Friday, though tinged with protests and wintry weather, still lured crowds into stores across the country, even as some shoppers expressed exhaustion over what has become a long, drawn-out start to the holiday sales.
The day that traditionally signified the start of year-end sales has become just another family-shopping day, thanks to retailers that have already been discounting heavily in a bid to lift sales that have so far been tepid this year.
“Black Friday has turned into Black November,” said Richard Jaffe, a retail expert at Stifel, the investment bank.
Eric Felton arrived at Tyson’s Corner Center, a shopping center in Northern Virginia with over 300 specialty stores, about 3 a.m. As the morning began, the shopping center seemed more subdued.
“I’m not sure there’s anything such as Black Friday anymore,” Felton said. “The erosion on Black Friday into Thursday has messed a lot of people up.”
Cindy Leonard, who brought her 10-month-old to see Santa, said she arrived early, expecting to hit traffic. Then she quickly turned to her smartphone.
“I think everyone is avoiding Friday,” Leonard said. “I’m ordering the things on my phone that I couldn’t find in Pottery Barn.”
At Wal-Mart stores across the country, workers staged Black Friday protests, chanting “Shut Wal-Mart down!” and reminding shoppers that some employees of the nation’s largest retailer rely on food stamps to feed their families.
Still, Wal-Mart reported brisk traffic overnight. The retailer, based in Bentonville, Ark., said that 22 million shoppers streamed through stores across the country on Thanksgiving Day.
Overall, about 140 million people are expected to shop in stores or online this weekend.
Online retailers are competing for an increasingly larger share of the holiday spending. They are also driving many of the deals. Amazon has out-discounted many of the country’s biggest retailers on big-ticket holiday items, offering a Samsung 55-inch 4K flat-screen television for $899. Dealnews.com, which closely tracks Black Friday deals, declared Amazon’s deal “without a doubt” the cheapest name-brand 4K television it had ever seen.
Early figures showed a substantial increase from last year in online shopping, a sign both of the growing role of e-commerce and of the shopping season’s inroads into the Thanksgiving holiday.
Custora, a company that helps retailers track e-commerce data, said the number of online transactions was up nearly 20 percent on Thanksgiving Day versus last year. However, the buying still remains well below Black Friday volumes, which in 2013 were 2.5 times higher than Thanksgiving Day this year.
Revenue was up 17.7 percent from last year, Custora said. Mobile orders accounted for slightly more than a third of the total, versus one fifth last year.
Target, which made steep discounts available online as early as Thursday morning, said both the number of orders and the sales total rose 40 percent from last year, making the day its biggest online sales day ever. Mobile phones and tablets drove the growth in traffic and sales, Target said.
Seattle Times staff reporters Coral Garnick and Angel Gonzalez contributed to this story.