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Crowds hit the stores for Black Friday

November 25, 2018

BURLINGTON — Robyn Austin walked toward her family in the half-priced sock section of Fred Meyer carrying a bulging bag of items.

“I just bought $122 worth of socks,” Austin exclaimed, holding up her Black Friday bounty.

Austin, who now lives in Mill Creek, said she has been shopping on Black Friday with her mother Terry Campbell of Mount Vernon and her three sisters since she was a kid.

Campbell said she started taking her daughters to the all-day shopping marathon when they turned 10, and it has been a tradition ever since.

“I load up on socks every year,” Austin said. “I just overload.”

As Austin and her family added to their haul, store employee Esme Fonseca roamed through the chaos, attending to any needs that arose.

“It’s very hectic,” Fonseca said. “It doesn’t die down.”

The Burlington resident stopped to help a customer before turning back to explain how difficult it can be to get people what they want.

“We don’t have back stock,” she said. “It’s all here on the floor.”

While data shows a steady rise in online shopping, major brick-and-mortar stores such as Fred Meyer, Target and Best Buy are still holding their own, said Burlington Chamber of Commerce President Peter Browning.

Browning said those Burlington stores, as well as Macy’s and Bed Bath & Beyond, are going full tilt.

The National Retail Federation — the nation’s largest retail trade group — predicts an estimated 164 million Americans will shop both in-store and online from Thanksgiving Day through Monday.

That trend was highlighted at Target in Burlington as three generations of Oak Harbor women shopped in the store’s electronics aisles before checking online for deals on Amazon.

“We’re surviving,” Veronica Reynolds joked while her mom and daughter browsed for PlayStation 4 games. “No one has tried to run us over.”

A few aisles down, Courtney Wahlgren of Mount Vernon also remarked on the relative calm of Target.

“A lot of department stores are offering the same deals online as in-store,” she said. “I’m not shoving my cart around people like past years.”

Still, the National Retail Federation expects more money than ever will be spent this holiday season, with consumers estimating they’ll spend an average of about $1,007 — up 4.1 percent from what they estimated they would spend last year — according to a recent survey.

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