Thanksgiving sales appear to cut into Black Friday morning shopping volume
BY NOUR HABIB World Scene Writer
Saturday, November 24, 2012
11/24/12 at 7:19 AM
Related story: Shoppers can’t fight allure of discounts.
At first glance, the mid-morning Black Friday shopping scene at many of Tulsa's retailers appeared like any ordinary, mid-morning shopping scene.
Only seven of 24 check-out lanes were open at Target, crowds at Woodland Hills Mall were thin enough to easily navigate, and plenty of parking spots were available outside of Kohl's.
But looking closely, and as the morning progressed, telltale signs of the biggest shopping event of the year became more apparent.
Sleeping kids who had been out shopping with their parents since just before 1 a.m. could be seen sprawled on mall couches. Customers carried shopping bags on both shoulders and used their children's strollers as makeshift carts. And managers could be overheard on walkie talkies reminding employees to stay friendly.
Because many stores moved their post-Thanksgiving shopping deals to Thursday night, the shoppers out on this year's Black Friday were of two varieties - the hardcore shoppers still going strong from the night before, and some casual browsers out to see what was left after the Thanksgiving Day rush.
Aimee Collins, who was shopping at Woodland Hills Mall on Friday morning, said stores opening Thanksgiving Day have ruined the experience.
"I don't think anyone should have had to work yesterday," she said. "That's ridiculous."
But she and four family members and a friend began shopping at 8 p.m. Thursday nonetheless.
Ruby Garman, who was part of Collins' group, said they spent several hours at Walmart on Thursday night, where they picked up iPads and Xbox games, among other items. After brief naps, they hit the mall in the morning.
The Black Friday shopping veterans - all dressed alike, in green Christmas T-shirts with red-and-white striped shirts underneath, so they could easily spot one another - planned to spend the day shopping.
"We usually go shop, eat, shop, eat, shop, eat," Garman said.
The group said the earlier opening times also meant emptier stores in the morning.
"It's not as fun," Garman said. "It's not Black Friday if it's empty."
Woodland Hills Mall marketing director Jodi Koch, who had been at the mall since it opened at midnight, said she saw the crowd ebb and flow because of the different store opening times.
Tulsans Michelle and Brian Liebert missed out on a doorbuster sale on a big-screen television at the 8 p.m. Thursday opening at Sears, but they found a great deal on one at a nearby Target store.
"This is really the first time we've ever been out to do shopping on Thanksgiving like this," said Michelle Liebert, standing in line at Target with her husband. "I usually baby-sit for other couples that are out shopping."
Vicki Martin and her 18-year-old twin daughters, Jessi and A.J., also missed out on Sears' doorbuster offer - a 50-inch TV that was selling for $299. By the time they got to the store, half an hour after it opened, the doorbusters were gone.
The three picked up some deals at other stores as they shopped through the night, taking a short break at home at 5 a.m., then heading back to the mall a few hours later to look for perfume at Dillard's.
Jessi Martin, who had knee surgery Wednesday, joked that she was quite a dedicated shopper. But the shopping expedition helped her move her knee, which doctors encouraged. And she said being in the wheelchair turned into an advantage.
"People move out of your way," she said. "It's kind of a strategy."
Not everyone who was out Friday morning was looking for a specific deal.
Best Buy, which opened at midnight Friday, was still abuzz with shoppers at 10 a.m. But many were just browsing, and several congregated at boxes carrying inexpensive DVDs.
Jayme Greer, 18, was out for her first Black Friday experience.
As she browsed the aisles at Best Buy with a couple of shopping companions, Greer said they missed out on what they really came for.
"We just wanted to get out and see all the crazy people," she said.
World Business Writer Kyle Arnold contributed to this story.
Original Print Headline: Thursday sales cut into Black Friday volume
Nour Habib 918-581-8369
Cousins Maricruz Muñoz (left), 15, and Monica Murillo, 15, catch a nap Friday at Woodland Hills Mall after a long night of shopping. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World
Kevin Johnson (right) takes advantage of Black Friday sales at Woodland Hills Mall. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World
Tiffany Pruitt (left), Aimee Collins and Clistie Gilreath take a break from Black Friday shopping at Woodland Hills Mall. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World