Americans kick off two-day holiday shopping marathon

Topic of the Day

Americans kick off two-day holiday shopping marathon

The holiday shopping season started as a marathon, not a sprint.

More than a dozen major retailers from Target to Toys R Us opened for 24 hours or more on Thanksgiving Day through Black Friday, the traditional start to the holiday shopping period. As a result, crowds formed early and often throughout the two days.

About 15,000 people were waiting for the flagship Macy's in New York City's Herald Square when it opened at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving. Long checkout lines formed at the Target in Colma, Calif., on Black Friday morning. And at North Point Mall in Alpharetta, Ga., Jessica Astalos, 20, had already been shopping for six hours starting on Thanksgiving night as another wave of shoppers made their way into the mall around 5:30 a.m. on Black Friday.

"I like being around crowds of people all doing the same thing," said Dalton Mason, 22, of Stockbridge, Ga.

The start of the holiday shopping season has transformed into a two-day event. For nearly a decade, Black Friday had been the official start to the busy buying binge sandwiched between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was named Black Friday because that was traditionally when retailers turned a profit, or moved out of the red and into the black.

But in the past few years, retailers have pushed opening times into Thanksgiving night. Some like Macy's opened on Thanksgiving for the first time this year. Others like Gap Inc., which owns Banana Republic, Gap and Old Navy, opened some stores earlier on Thanksgiving than the year before. And many pushed up the discounting that used to be reserved for Black Friday into early November.

The earlier openings and sales were met with some resistance. Some workers' rights groups had planned protests on both Thanksgiving and Black Friday because they opposed having retail employees miss family meals at home. But as of Thursday afternoon, there weren't reports of widespread protests.

Some shoppers even had said they would not venture out on Thanksgiving because they believe it's a sacred holiday meant to spend with family and friends. And at least one who did venture out regretted the decision. By 5 a.m. Friday, Curtis Akins, 51, was sitting on a bench - looking slightly exhausted -- inside a mall in Atlanta's northern suburbs as his wife looked for deals. "I think it's going to end because it's taking away from the traditional Thanksgiving," he said of the Black Friday tradition.

But that sentiment didn't stop others from taking advantage of the earlier openings and sales. "We like to shop this time of night ... We're having a ball," said Rosanne Scrom as she left the Target store in Clifton Park, N.Y., at 5 a.m. Friday.

The reception to the double-day holiday shopping start has led some retail experts to question how much further Black Friday will creep into Thanksgiving. Some now even refer to the holiday as Black Thanksgiving or Gray Thursday. "Black Friday is now Gray Friday," said Craig Johnson, president of Customer Growth Partners, a retail consultancy.

It's unclear whether or not the early openings will lead shoppers to spend more over the two days or simply spread sales between the two days. Last year, sales on Thanksgiving were $810 million last year, an increase of 55 percent from the previous year as more stores opened on the holiday, according to Chicago research firm ShopperTrak. But sales dropped 1.8 percent to $11.2 billion on Black Friday, though it still was the biggest shopping day last year.

Sales figures for this year's Thanksgiving and Black Friday will trickle out in the next couple days, but some big chains already are proclaiming early Friday morning that the start to the holiday shopping season had gotten off to a successful start.

Most Wal-Mart stores are open 24 hours, but the world's largest retailer started its holiday shopping sales events at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving, two hours earlier than last year. Wal-Mart said that customers bought 2.8 million towels, two million TVs, 1.4 million tablets, 300,000 bicycles and 1.9 million dolls.

Rival Target, which opened at an hour earlier this year at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving, also said that traffic starting in the early morning hours of Thanksgiving on Target.com and at its stores later in the day was "strong."

Terry Lundgren, Macy's CEO, said "so far, so good" referring to the overall holiday shopping season. The 15,000 people who showed up for the opening of the flagship store was the most ever, up from 11,000 last year.

"It's unbelievable," he said. "Clearly people are in the shopping mood."

© 2013 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED. Learn more about our PRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE.

  • Email Alert Sign Up

    Sign up here to receive breaking news stories from KSWT.com and morning updates to your email inbox.

    * denotes required fields


    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
Go to KSWT-TV's Facebook page
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Storm hits Yuma, Phoenix could be next

    Storm hits Yuma, Phoenix could be next

    More than 1,600 households lost power in Yuma late Thursday afternoon.More >>
    More than 1,600 households lost power in Yuma late Thursday afternoon.More >>
  • Woman who lost power arrested in generator theft

    Woman who lost power arrested in generator theft

    Deputies in Mohave County say a Kingman woman whose electricity had been turned off has been arrested after a stolen generator and other items taken from a neighbor were found in yard.More >>
    Deputies in Mohave County say a Kingman woman whose electricity had been turned off has been arrested after a stolen generator and other items taken from a neighbor were found in yard.More >>
  • Doug Ducey, Scott Smith lead Arizona governor race

    Doug Ducey, Scott Smith lead Arizona governor race

    Arizona's six-way Republican governor's primary is widely seen as a contest between Mesa Mayor Scott Smith and Arizona Treasurer Doug Ducey.More >>
    Arizona's six-way Republican governor's primary is widely seen as a contest between Mesa Mayor Scott Smith and Arizona Treasurer Doug Ducey.More >>
  • Oregon gunman planned to kill 'bunch' of people

    Oregon gunman planned to kill 'bunch' of people

    Friday, August 22 2014 4:15 PM EDT2014-08-22 20:15:29 GMT
    A gunman who fatally shot his father and then a man camping at an Oregon beach earlier this week left behind notes that said he was mentally ill and planned to "kill a bunch of other people" and then himself.More >>
    A gunman who fatally shot his father and then a man camping at an Oregon beach earlier this week left behind notes that said he was mentally ill and planned to "kill a bunch of other people" and then himself.More >>
  • Drug tunnel found in Mexicali

    Drug tunnel found in Mexicali

    Mexicali--Mexican police found a partially constructed drug tunnel near the U.S. border in Mexicali. Police said the tunnel was presumably being built by drug traffickers. Mexicali's police chief saidMore >>
    Mexican police found a partially constructed drug tunnel near the U.S. border in Mexicali. More >>
  • Possible drowning

    Possible drowning

    On Sunday the Blythe Police Department received a call regarding a missing 10 year old boy in the vicinity of the Colorado river and the Interstate 10 bridge. The call came out shortly after two in the afternoon when his parents lost sight of him as he swam in the river. The Blythe Boat Patrol searched the river and even called inn CHP and Care Flight Helicopters for aerial support. The search went on until night fall and it was the called off. The child was not found; and is believed that he...More >>
    On Sunday the Blythe Police Department received a call regarding a missing 10 year old boy in the vicinity of the Colorado river and the Interstate 10 bridge. The call came out shortly after two in the afternoon when his parents lost sight of him as he swam in the river. The Blythe Boat Patrol searched the river and even called inn CHP and Care Flight Helicopters for aerial support. The search went on until night fall and it was the called off. The child was not found; and is believed that he...More >>
  • Advertise with KSWT

    Advertise with KSWT

    Why Advertise on KSWT? Advertise your business with KSWT and discover a unique and powerful way to reach thousands of people in Yuma, Imperial Valley, Mexicali, San Luis & Algodones . Not only will advertisingMore >>
    KSWT is here to help you promote your business. Advertise with us today! Click here for information.More >>
  • Crime Watch

    Police investigating dead body found in parked car

    Police investigating dead body found in parked car

    YUMA, Ariz. (13 On Your Side) - Yuma police say a dead woman was found in a car parked at Food City on 8th Street on Tuesday night, at around 6:20 p.m. Police are investigating her cause of death andMore >>
    Yuma police are investigating the death of a woman who was found in a parked car Tuesday night.More >>