With more than triple the number of consumers planning to hit stores Black Friday than Thanksgiving, shoppers can usually expect Friday’s lines to be much longer. But that might not be the case this year.
As stores geared up for one of the highest grossing Black Fridays in recent memories, companies rolled out mobile payment technology to shorten lines. Shoppers at Walmart and Target will find employees in the busiest parts of store who can check them out with a handheld device.
Those tools may keep shoppers from standing in checkout lines, but Thursday’s Thanksgiving Day deals showed that bargain hunters were willing to endure waits for the best deals.
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“I do not enjoy this, but to save $200, this was worth it,” said Andy Ayres, a Kettering resident who showed up at Meijer just after 4 a.m. to make sure he would be at the front of the line to get his children’s Christmas gifts.
Ayres was one of hundreds at the Kettering store to wait hours for huge discounts on televisions, iPads and Apple watches. Store director Bill Angell estimated that thousands of Miami Valley shoppers turned out for the 6 a.m. sale across the eight Dayton area locations.
JCPenney, Best Buy, Kohl’s, Target and Walmart also saw long lines as shoppers awaited late afternoon and early evening deals.
First in line at Best Buy, Miamisburg resident Justin Sexton and his girlfriend camped from 10 p.m. Wednesday until the electronics retailer’s doors opened at 5 p.m. Thursday, totaling more than 19 hours.
“I debated about it. I didn’t even know if I was really going to come,” he said. “And then when I got off work (Wednesday), I just thought it’s too good of a deal. We’re going to spend way more if we don’t, so let’s just go do it.”
Yet Friday will be the busiest shopping holiday of the year, with more than 116 million people planning to shop. That’s more than triple the 34 million on Thanksgiving.
Miamisburg resident Kanysha Smith, who waited nearly two hours for a deal on a television early Thursday morning, said despite waking up at 3:15 a.m. she would still be doing more shopping later Thursday night and this morning.
“I won’t stand outside because I’m always cold and I don’t really like being that cold,” she said, “I do kind of like the rush of everything. When everybody’s doing their holiday shopping, they don’t like being in the hustle and bustle, but we’ve done it for probably over 10 years now.”
As consumer shopping habits change, more people look to e-commerce to fulfill holiday needs, saying its convenient to shop from home and avoid huge crowds during the holidays. Adobe Analytics forecasts a 15 percent jump in online sales this holiday season.
But University of Dayton marketing professor Riley Dugan said the in-store experience during Black Friday is unmatched for some shoppers.
“SometimespeoplelikeBlackFridayshopping becausetheylikebeingamongstcrowdsofpeople; theyfeelgoodaboutthemselves becausethey’regettingdeals, whereevolutionarily we’veevolvedtokindoffeellike huntergatherers,” he said.
Those bargain hunters are likely to find some of the best deals on Black Friday, Dugan said, as stores advertise prices so cheap they can barely make a profit, let alone break even. Yet that “loss leader” is intended to draw shoppers in the doors where they’ll buy other items with higher profit margins.
“They still want that tangible experience,” said Miami Twp. Walmart store manager Ashley Phillips. “They want to see what they are buying and they want to know they’ve got it — I’ve securely got this item.”
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