RALEIGH — With a sense of humor and a brave exterior, thousands coped with the first big day of the holiday shopping season. Hudson Belk at Crabtree Valley Mall opened its doors at 6:00 a.m., while the rest of the mall opened for business two hours later. It's exactly what retailers want to see, shoppers filing in by droves, ready, willing and able to spend money.
Welcome to the day after Thanksgiving at the mall. It was a packed house, as usual, this morning as thousands of shoppers got up early ready to spend and to save. Some shoppers took a little coaxing.
Mary Hinrichs confesses her children made her come out. They demanded a day of shopping, and that was it.
Economists say consumer confidence is high, while inflation is low. The question of retailers is, "are you spending, or just looking?"
"It's been pretty good," says shopper Ardell Farmer. "There sure are a lot of people out here. I think everybody came out today. I just like being in a crowd. I'm just looking, you know."
Instead of just looking, retailers want to see people spend money. Hopefully for them, this year's shopping season will be bigger than the last. The day after Thanksgiving marks the beginning of extended hours for many retailers, staying open until 10 and 11:00 p.m.
If you didn't get out on Friday, or you simply didn't want to, you still have plenty of time until the stores close on Christmas Eve. Those shoppers who did fork over the dough did so mostly on clothing and other items put on sale for the "early birds."
Editor's Note: There may be millions of people at the stores, but that won't necessarily mean good news for retailers.
A slow buying trend may continue for a third year. Only 12% of Americans say they plan to spend more on gifts this year than last year. Fifty-six-percent say they'll spend about the same amount. And 31% say they are cutting back.
How much will we actually spend on those gifts? A researcher at Syracuse University says the average American will spend $770. Thats about $115 less than last year.
Analysts add that most of us will be putting less of those charges on our credit cards.