BEAVER FALLS, Pa. — Lured by earlier-than-ever Black Friday sales, people left Grandma and Grandpa in search of Samsung and Toshiba. They did not go blindly: In dozens of interviews, people acknowledged how spending has become inseparable from the holidays. Many also said that Black Friday bleeding into Thursday crossed a line of commercialism.
Yet amid these protests, people still talked about feeling powerless beneath the moment. “You have to have these things to enjoy your children and your family,” said Ebony Jones inside a Best Buy store in the Pittsburgh suburbs. Jones had secured two laptops ($187.99 each) for her 7- and 11-year-olds.
“It shouldn’t be that way, but in a sense there’s no way around it,” said Jones, a nurse. “Everything ends up with a dollar amount. Even your happiness.”
Many stores evidently felt they needed an edge, especially this season, when many Americans are worried about high unemployment and wondering whether Congress will be able to head off tax increases and spending cuts before the U.S. reaches the “fiscal cliff” in January.
Overall, the National Retail Federation estimates that sales in November and December will rise 4.1 percent this year to $586.1 billion, below last year’s 5.6 percent.
Macy’s, which opened at midnight on Thanksgiving, had 12,000 customers wrapped around its store in New York’s Herald Square.
Julie Hansen, a spokeswoman at Minneapolis’ Mall of America, the nation’s largest shopping center, reported that 30,000 shoppers showed up for the mall’s midnight opening, up from 20,000 last year. “This was additional dollars,” Hansen said. This year, 200 of the 520 mall tenants opened at midnight following Thanksgiving. That’s double from a year ago.
To be sure, it’s not clear whether the longer hours will turn into extra dollars for retailers, or whether sales will simply be spread out over two days.