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Christmas lists: Shoppers head to retailers for Black Friday bargains

November 25, 2018

Holiday shoppers put the Thanksgiving leftovers in the fridge and headed out to take advantage of Black Friday sales at retailers, without quite such large crowds as Wednesday.

People outside Best Buy lugged 55-inch televisions to the parking lot in pairs and alone, while others carried out bags of video games and home appliances. A sparse row of coffee cups and soda containers marked where shoppers had lined up outside for their chance to shop the store’s deals.

Ernesto Martinez, 26, said the Friday traffic inside Best Buy was calmer compared to the turnout Thursday evening. He had parked across the street Thursday at a nearby shopping plaza because of the crowd but only browsed the store’s merchandise. Martinez returned Friday to pick up a couple pairs of Beats headphones he reserved online — one for him and another for his sister, Lili.

“Yesterday, it was super packed,” he said of Thursday. “It was chaos, so I told myself I was going to come back.”

Not only was the crowd smaller Friday, Martinez said, but the store was more organized with employees directing customers where to find the sale items. He is still on the hunt for gifts for his parents and nephews, but he’s waiting for Cyber Monday deals.

Retail data show he’s not the only one. Shopify, an online sales platform for businesses, noted that Cyber Monday continues to close the gap with Black Friday in terms of online sales. Mobile shopping surpassed the use of desktop computers in 2017 and was used in 64 percent of orders.

Rakuten Marketing, a California-based data firm, found in 2017 that online commerce outpaced brick-and-mortar shopping over the holiday weekend by 68 percent.

The National Retail Federation predicts that young adults will flex their spending muscles over the weekend. In a survey of shoppers, it reported that 43 percent of respondents ages 18-24 and 38 percents of those ages 25-34 planned to spend more than last year.

NRP expects 71 percent of an estimated 164 million people who plan to shop during the five-day weekend to hit stores on Black Friday. Clothing and accessories are expected to top shopping lists and be purchased by 59 percent of shoppers, according to NRF, followed by gift cards at 56 percent, toys at 41 percent and books, music and movies at 40 percent.

Lili Martinez, 27, picked up a gift and a set of “Game of Thrones” DVDs during the shopping trip, opting to do her shopping on Black Friday because of the smaller crowd compared to Thursday.

“I like the whole experience of walking around and looking, but not the experience of a big crowd pushing and fighting,” she said.

Lili Martinez said she, her brother and her boyfriend — all teachers — would likely head to Game Stop and then to Office Depot or Staples to shop for their classrooms. Aside from that, she doesn’t have much holiday shopping to do.

“We’re not big on material things,” she said. “We really do think about, ‘What do we need?’ Not, ‘What do we want?’”

The crowd at Sunrise Mall was similarly mellow. Though there weren’t any takers at Santa’s photo area, there were still plenty of people resting on benches while surrounded by shopping bags. JCPenney customers lined up in front of cash registers with bundles of clothes or toys.

Halo Gonzalez, 18, was part of the line of customers waiting for their turn to enter the brightly lit Pandora jewelry store. It was her first time shopping during Black Friday because, she said, her mom has dismissed the idea in years past due to the crowds.

“I’ve been wanting to get my mom a ring for Christmas,” Gonzalez said. “I kind of didn’t want to come because I knew it was going to be a lot of people.”

She has more Christmas shopping to do but said she would head home if stores elsewhere seemed too busy. Even while standing in line, Gonzalez pondered why she didn’t simply use her smart phone to place her order online.

“I can press ‘buy’ right now and leave,” she said.

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