Local News

Midnight Shopping Lures Black Friday Hordes

Posted November 22, 2007 10:37 p.m. EST
Updated November 22, 2007 11:40 p.m. EST

— Black Friday – two words that give goose bumps to shoppers and leave retailers dreaming of dollar signs. It's also the unofficial start to the holiday shopping season.

Stores are pulling out all stops amid predictions of the worst holiday shopping season in five years. Many stores are opening early and offering big deals to lure shoppers.

Matthew and Siedah Taylor were among those waiting Thursday night for Smithfield Outlets to open at midnight. They arrived five hours early and sat outside – in the dark – just to be the first in the door.

Janet Nicodemus arrived a half hour earlier than the Taylors.

"We are here for us and the bargains and the bargains," Nicodemus said.

Nicodemus traveled more than three hours from Myrtle Beach, S.C. She said the long wait pays off in savings. Outlet store signs promised 50 even 75 percent off for the first few hours the stores are open.

Dozens of shoppers at Kmart in Raleigh couldn't wait until Friday and were met Thursday with doughnuts and coffee as early as 7 a.m., and when the store opened. They quickly cleared the shelves of top-selling items: Nintendo's Wii, selling for $249.99; the Magellan Maestro 3100 Navigation System for $129.99 and 32-inch Olevia LCD television for $419.99.

Rick Long was one of the first shoppers in line and snagged his only planned purchase: the 32-inch flat screen.

"There's actually one that's going to be cheaper tomorrow, but there's going to be a bigger line," Long said after hoisting his purchase into the back of his car. "So, I figure paying the extra $20 is worth it."

Ellen Davis, spokeswoman for the National Retail Federation, said the Thanksgiving openings may be a way of generating early enthusiasm ahead of a holiday season that's widely expected to be sluggish.

Still, she said, no matter how stiff the competition is, for those new in the game, opening on Thanksgiving is still considered a tough decision when weighing employee time off and other factors.

"I think at this point Thanksgiving is still very revered in the retail industry," Davis said. "A lot of retailers just don't want to touch Thursday."

Area shopping malls are also opening early Friday:

Crabtree Valley Mall, 7 a.m. - 10 p.m.

Triangle Town Center, 7a.m. - 10 p.m.

Cary Town Center, 7a.m. - 10 p.m.

Streets of Southpoint, 5 a.m. -10 p.m.

Northgate Mall, 9 a.m. - 10 p.m.

Cross Creek Mall, 5 a.m. - 10 p.m.

Kohls Opens at 4 a.m.

Smithfield Outlets Opens at 12 a.m.