The Latest: online, in malls and overseas, Black Friday's on
Posted November 25
NEW YORK — The Latest on Black Friday Holiday shopping (all times Eastern):
Adobe Digital Insights says Thanksgiving Day sales online totaled $1.93 billion, up 11.5 percent from the day last year, as more people opted to stay home and shop online instead of hitting the stores. Still, that fell short of the $2 billion Adobe predicted.
Adobe attributed the shortfall to heavy discounting in the early hours of the holiday and-higher than-expected online revenue the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
For Black Friday, online sales are expected to rise 11.3 percent to $3.05 billion, surpassing $3 billion for the first time.
Adobe data is based on aggregated and anonymous data from 22 billion visits to retail websites. The data measures about 80 percent of all online transactions from the top 100 U.S. retailers.
Big chains may be offering rock-bottom deals to entice shoppers on Black Friday but some small stores were also slashing prices ahead of Small Business Saturday.
The early jump on deals at locally owned businesses drew in Carl Wright, who was shopping at local stores in San Diego, saying he preferred to support the local economy.
Wright was visiting from Long Beach, outside Los Angeles, and wanted to buy something for his friends that had a story behind it. He bought locally made candles at Pigment, a home goods store owned by a San Diego couple.
Wright said he and his wife would likely return for the deeper discounts at local shops on Saturday.
Shoppers were traveling across state lines and over roads and rails to experience Black Friday shopping in Rhode Island.
North Kingstown friends Sokeara Sanford and Nora Ong, both 15, say their families don't like to spend the day after Thanksgiving shopping. So the girls did it on their own, waking up at 5 a.m. and taking a commuter train from Wickford Junction to Providence so they could go to the Providence Place mall.
Dennis Miller, of Youngstown, Ohio, also came to Providence Place with his wife and son during a Thanksgiving week trip to visit his brother's family in Rhode Island.
Miller says he also went electronics shopping in Connecticut late on Thanksgiving night. Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Maine don't allow retailers to open on Thanksgiving Day, but Connecticut does.
Macy's wrestled with some technical issues on its website during one of the most crucial shopping days of the year.
Through early afternoon, many visitors to the site saw "Temporary shopping jam."
Macy's had a 10-second countdown to get to the site, though the delay often ran longer than that.
"We are still taking a high volume of online orders, and we are working quickly to alleviate the delay issue which we hope to have resolved shortly," the company said.
After the bruising presidential race, Jeanne Bradford-Odorico says she did not want to fight crowds at the malls and instead wanted to do something healthy on Black Friday.
The 65-year-old financial analyst of San Diego spent part of the day Friday hiking under sunny skies in Mission Trails park, a picturesque 5,800 square mountain park in the city where coyotes and bobcats live.
Bradford-Odorico says she believes the election that divided the country is also inspiring many to do something healthy like getting out in nature to heal.
She says she has shopped in the past but was inspired to heed the message by REI calling on people to get outside on Black Friday instead of bargain-hunting at malls.
Several hundred protesters have gathered in Chicago's Magnificent Mile shopping district to demand an elected civilian police review board.
An engaged crowd listened to speakers Friday morning near the city's historic Old Water Tower. One speaker criticized Republican President-elect Donald Trump in the same breath as Democratic Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Others expressed shock over two fatal shootings by Chicago police that occurred Wednesday night and Friday morning.
Activists have called for a shopping boycott in Chicago's downtown on the busiest shopping day of the year. They have pressed for an elected Civilian Police Accountability Council since a video was released last year showing a white police officer fatally shooting black teen Laquan McDonald.
City officials have said they plan to create a non-elected citizen oversight board next year.
Some shoppers are declaring victory after heading out early for Black Friday deals in Colorado but, for the others, the hunt continues.
Yesenia Rivera and her family emerged from a Denver Wal-Mart with their lone shopping success of the morning — a 50-inch Emerson flat screen TV on sale for $225. She said they didn't find the toys they were looking for but are pleased with their purchase. After loading the TV into the car, they headed out to pursue more deals elsewhere.
A little earlier, Michelle Smith emerged with a cart loaded with a sewing machine for her mom and a small TV for the family. She said she'd gotten everything she wanted for the day.
The balloon artist said she's cutting down on spending this year and focusing on gifts that last for her six kids. She told the adults in the family not to expect gifts, saying she doesn't want to participate in "the great gift card exchange."
Gisela (GEE'-suh-la) Pursel, president of the organization Master Gardeners of Greater Kansas City, was unloading bags from a shopping cart into her vehicle at a Kohl's store shortly before 9 a.m. Friday.
The Kansas City resident began shopping around 7 a.m. after combing through newspaper ads and online aps looking for the best sales. With five children, eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild on her list, Pursel said she expects to drop $3,000 to $4,000 on Christmas this year — about what she usually spends.
"I like really nice, well-made toys," Pursel said. "I like nice quality products. When I see those on sale I go for those kinds of things."
While she was likely to hit four or five stores on Friday, a Thanksgiving shopping trip was strictly off-limits.
"People don't need to shop until Friday," she said.
The Black Friday mentality and marketing approach has leapt across the Atlantic to shape the spending habits in much of Britain.
Many big box stores opened early Friday morning while others focused on cutting online prices or combining the two.
The response was immediate: at Dixons Carphone chain, commercial marketing director Jonathan Earle said there had been a 40 percent increase in orders on Friday morning compared to Black Friday last year.
"I think this Black Friday will be bigger and better than ever before," he said.
Earle said the store was selling five orders per second and 30 large screen TVs each minute.
Other chains reported similar bullish reports on sales.
Matt Welters, 30, snuck outside a Kansas City Toys R Us store to stash a couple bags in his family's vehicle as his wife and three children walked around inside the store.
The toy store was the first stop for Welters, his wife and their three children, ages 2, 5 and 7, after the couple decided to skip the hectic Thanksgiving night rush. He said they planned to shop for the children until mid-afternoon.
"They love the Shopkins things, "Welters said. "I don't understand it, but they love it. And trolls. They love the movie so they're excited about that stuff."
Welters said he was scaling back a little on his Christmas spending this year, mainly because he needs to save for a new vehicle.
Shamika Malloy of Albany, New York, missed out on the $100 doorbusters offer and was shopping Friday for her four teenage children. Her must-have item is a laptop for a daughter in college.
Malloy said she had not yet shopped online but will and usually does so each year. "It's better than coming in the store. If you do it online, you save and you can get it delivered right to the house for free. Can't beat that."
She said she wouldn't shop at as many places as last year. "Whoever's got the best deals, that's where I go."
Ryan Bartlett came to the Crossgates Mall in suburban Albany, New York, without any certain thing in mind to buy. He says when he gets burned out it's time to go, and he'll try not to make a full day of it.
He says his wife has done quite a bit of shopping online this year, and although he's not much of a technology guy the must-have for him is batteries. He says they go through so many on Christmas Day.
Bartlett, of Sharon Springs, New York, says he thinks it's completely ridiculous to shop on Thanksgiving.
Debra Ude, a 61-year-old Kansas City teacher, visited a Toys R Us looking for a 20-inch girl's bike with hand brakes. She started shopping at 7 a.m. and was heading into her third store by 9:30.
Shopping was much easier this year because she waited until the day after Thanksgiving to get started, Ude (you-dee) said. She acknowledges going out on Thanksgiving night a few times in the past when she was looking for TVs or similar big-ticket items, but she's not a fan of the early start.
"It's taken the tradition away from the holidays," she said. "But money's tight and a good deal is a good deal."
Ude said she plans to spend about $500 on Christmas gifts this year, which is on par with past years.
Michelle Smith, a balloon artist in Denver, emerged happy from a south Denver Wal-Mart early Friday. Her cart was loaded — a sewing machine for her mom, a small TV for the family. She'd gotten everything she wanted for the day.
"I tried to come here last night, Thanksgiving night, and it was too busy," Smith said in the early morning cold. "So I came back at six today."
Smith says she's cutting down on spending this year, and wants gifts that last for her six kids.
"I told the adults in my family I wasn't buying for them. I didn't want to get involved in the great gift card exchange," she said. "As for the kids, I'm looking for electronic games that will last. I try not to buy into the one-hit wonders of the year, the ones that they play with for one day and then drop."
That includes this year's hits such as Star Wars Lego sets.
Dana Sari has finished all of her holiday shopping online. But she and her mother kept to their decades-old tradition of spending Black Friday together.
They arrived at the relatively quiet MacArthur Center mall in downtown Norfolk, Virginia, shortly after 8 a.m. where each bought a coffee and sat near a Nordstrom.
Sari, 43, a neuropsychologist who lives in Norfolk, says it's not so much about the consumerism as it is the quality time with her mother during the holiday season.
Sari said she prefers buying gifts from online catalogues and boutique retailers rather than larger corporations, which she says value her less as a customer.
Macy's CEO Terry Lundgren tells The Associated Press that store traffic has been encouraging. He says shopper numbers have been strong at its flagship store Friday morning.
Lundgren said clothing sales have been good, with sportswear, dresses and even social occasion fashions doing well. But he's hoping for some cold weather to help fuel more sales of winter items.
Lundgren believes that the rising stock market will help shoppers' mood. Jeff Gennette, president of Macy's who will become CEO early next year, believes there was pent-up demand after the contentious presidential election was over. He says consumers can now focus on other things.
Black Friday? Try Green Friday in Massachusetts.
Gov. Charlie Baker has declared the day Green Friday, and his administration is encouraging people across the state to buy their Christmas trees, holiday plants and wreaths at local farms.
Baker says Massachusetts' nursery industry helps drive the economy. He says residents can make a difference by shopping for garland and other seasonal decorations at farms, farmers' markets, roadside stands and nurseries instead of big box stores.
The state Department of Agriculture says the holidays create hundreds of seasonal jobs at the state's nearly 400 Christmas tree farms.
It says the sector generates $1.4 million each year.
State officials also are urging people to have their used Christmas trees chipped so they can be burned as fuel or used as mulch or compost.
In Rhode Island, one of only three states that ban Thanksgiving Day retail sales, Victoria Davis got her holiday shopping started shortly after midnight Friday. She went from one mall to another looking for sales, finding few to her liking.
She and other shoppers who arrived after sunrise at the Garden City outdoor shopping mall in Cranston, Rhode Island, said they were glad their state — along with Massachusetts and Maine — doesn't let retailers open on Thanksgiving Day.
"I don't like the idea of it," said Lauren Glynn. "I feel bad for the people who have to work."
She and her husband, who are restaurateurs, came to the Cranston mall for fun, to soak up the experience and maybe find a few deals, but they said they plan to do most of their gift shopping online and at locally owned shops where they live in Bristol, Rhode Island.
The Swiss don't do Thanksgiving, but some Swiss stores that have started offering American-style "Black Friday" discounts online have seen their sites freeze, slow down or crash under a surge in traffic.
The lure of the shopping-spree bandwagon caused snags at electronics and computer vendors in particular.
Microspot's home page said its online shop was unavailable Friday due to "maintenance," and a customer service representative said by phone the site was overloaded. Interdiscount's site featured an "Access Denied" message.
Department store Manor, which started Black Friday deals last year, opted to look on the bright side.
"Victim of our success, we've run into lags on our site due to exceptionally high traffic," spokeswoman Elle Steinbrecher said in an email.
Leah Olson says she's planning to stick to her annual Christmas shopping budget of $300 to $400. Her stop at the Mall of America Friday morning followed some Thanksgiving night shopping trips to Target and a local mall.
Olson, who is from Chanhassen, Minnesota, said she had done some online shopping but preferred making in-person stops, saying she felt better deals were to be had that way — free shipping for online purchases aside.
She said she always likes to walk and go to the mall.
Brian Motzko is making his usual trip to the Mall of America in Minnesota early Friday while visiting relatives for Thanksgiving.
The Cedar Falls, Iowa resident says he's doing all his Christmas shopping on Black Friday, buying gifts for himself, his wife and family "until my card blows up." He says, "I've got two teenage girls. It's whatever."
Motzko says he scored 70 percent off cookware at Williams-Sonoma and was on the hunt for a Bluetooth speaker. He said the nation's largest shopping center seemed less packed than in years past.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which started its Black Friday sales in stores on Thursday at 6 p.m., says shoppers were embracing different types of tech products.
Steve Bratspies, who is chief merchandising officer at Wal-Mart's U.S. division, says in addition to picking up Black Friday favorites like televisions and toys, shoppers were looking for drones, virtual reality products and hoverboards.
The company started its online sale at 12:01 a.m. Thursday and noted that more than 70 percent of traffic to Walmart.com during the Thursday event came from mobile devices.
Stephanie Sullivan says she's searching for deals this holiday season on items for her son's upcoming wedding. She said she planned to hit the Columbia Mall in Missouri on Friday after some shopping the night before.
Sullivan, her two adult sons and future daughter-in-law had driven from Kirksville, Missouri to Columbia for the shopping on Thanksgiving. She and her entourage toted luggage and bulging bags as they headed to their truck, driven by one of her sons, waiting in front of Kohl's.
The 49-year-old said she saved $580 and spent a little under $200 on a four-piece luggage set, sweaters, pillows, boots and other things. She said she was buying for herself, but did purchase one sweater as a gift.
Sullivan said the family was trying to stay busy after the death of her husband in October. "and not focus on what we lost."
Stores open their doors Friday for what is still one of the busiest days of the year, even as the start of the holiday season edges ever earlier.
Many stores are offering the same deals as in previous years, like $19.99 boots that remain a big attraction, cashmere sweaters, and sheets. For some shoppers, big discounts on electronics are the draw.
Stores like Macy's, Walmart, Target and more were open Thursday evening in what they hope will be a new holiday tradition. Several shoppers were out looking for bargains on TVs. Other items that drew crowds were cellphones and Hatchimals — eggs with a small, animated animal inside that hatch when given attention.
Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, vies with the Saturday before Christmas as the biggest sales day.
AP reporters James Anderson in Denver, Greg Katz in London and Bill Draper in Kansas City, Missouri, contributed to this report.