Shoppers queue through Thanksgiving
Forget the traditional Thanksgiving holiday dinner.
Many in the US are choosing to get an even earlier jump on Christmas shopping, even if it means sleeping on the footpath outside stores.
The early morning shopping chaos that has become a day after Thanksgiving tradition has crept back this year to eat into Thanksgiving Day itself.
What was known as Black Friday – the day when stores traditionally turn a profit for the year – started on Thursday evening in many places.
When Macy’s opened its doors in New York City at midnight, 11,000 shoppers showed up.
Target opened its doors at 9pm on Thursday, three hours earlier than last year. Sears, which didn’t open on Thanksgiving last year, opened at 8pm.
About 17 per cent of shoppers said earlier this month they planned to shop at stores that opened on Thanksgiving, according to an International Council of Shopping Centers-Goldman Sachs survey of 1000 consumers.
Overall, it’s estimated that sales on Black Friday will be up 3.8 per cent to $US11.4 billion ($A11.03 billion) this year. Michael Prothero, 19, and Kenny Fullenlove, 20, missed Thanksgiving dinner altogether.
They started camping out on Monday night outside a Best Buy store in Ohio, which was scheduled to open at midnight.
“Better safe than sorry,” Prothero said.
Americans have grown more comfortable shopping online, which has put pressure on stores, which can make up to 40 per cent of their annual revenue during the two-month holiday shopping season, to compete.
That’s becoming more difficult. The National Retail Federation, an industry trade group, estimates overall sales in November and December will rise 4.1 per cent this year to $US586.1 billion, or about flat with last year’s growth.
But the online part of that is expected to rise 15 per cent to $US68.4 billion, according to Forrester Research.
“Every retailer wants to beat everyone else,” said C. Britt Beemer, chairman of America’s Research Group, a research firm.
“Shoppers love it.” Indeed, there were 11 shoppers in a four-tent encampment outside one Best Buy store in Michigan.
A $US179 Toshiba LCD television was worth missing Thanksgiving dinner at home. “We’ll miss the actual being there with family, but we’ll have the rest of the weekend for that,” said Jackie Berg, 26, who arrived on Wednesday afternoon.
Some workers were expected to protest the Thanksgiving hours. A New York City-based, union-backed group of retail workers called Retail Action Project planned protests in front of several stores, including AnnTaylor, Forever 21 and others that were opening at midnight on Black Friday and earlier.