Retailers kick off Black Friday early

November 22, 2012 8:56:16 PM PST
It used to be that Thanksgiving was a day for families to gather around the table, but more and more, it's a day to go bargain hunting.

There was a huge line at Target in San Jose, a phenomenon you usually see at electronic stores and Target doesn't open until 9 p.m. Thursday night.

Walmart and Sears kick off Black Friday at 8 p.m. on Thursday. Other stores will open at midnight.

And Kmart has scheduled their employees for split shifts because they're trying to maximize what bargains they can offer to shoppers.

For retailers, Thanksgiving has become their field of dreams. Open the doors and shoppers will come.

"I was in the Kmart line, I think it was, I was there like around 3:15 a.m." SF resident Stacey Powell said.

The doors open at 6 a.m. with promises of super bargains. Kmart employee Sameera Chatfield was surprised by the line.

"When I came in, there was a line around the block. It was crazy," Chatfield said.

They were drawn by deals, such as a 32-inch LCD TV for $97. There were limited quantities and the shelf was bare by mid-morning.

Kmart has been open Thanksgiving for several years, but it's joining other retailers by kicking off Black Friday early. It's closing at 4:00 p.m., but re-opening at 8:00 p.m. That means a fast Thanksgiving dinner and then back to work. The sacrifice isn't lost on shoppers.

"I think they need to open later so at least they can enjoy dinner. Majority of people aren't even going to eat until 6:30 p.m., or 7:00 p.m.," Daly City resident Terri Cabarle said.

Online shopping is setting records on Thursday for those who can't wait for Black Friday. IBM Smarter Commerce is tracking 500 online sites and found sales up 16 percent so far today over last Thanksgiving. Almost 15 percent are using mobile devices, up from 10 percent last year.

Professor Dale Achabal is executive director of the Retail Management Institute at Santa Clara University. He notes this is a trend that concerns traditional brick and mortar stores.

"What it represents is a shift in how and where consumers buy. They're moving their dollars from brick and mortar to online for convenience, selection and some of the opportunities that might exist there," Achabal said.

Happy is the shopper who found a good deal. "I found this tree here. It was $50, but this is $30. Man, It's quite a savings," SF resident Patrick Conway said.

Kmart is even offering something free to shoppers on Friday -- free flu shots at a number of Bay Area stores. This is just another way they're trying to lure shoppers, besides offering super low bargains.

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