Locals revel in holiday season shopping frenzy

Crowds upwards of 133 million shoppers flooded malls nationwide the day after Thanksgiving, or "Black Friday"--so named because it allegedly is the day when retailers begin to turn a profit for the year.

Although Duke employee Kay Hunter is usually still in bed at six o’clock on a Saturday morning, she wasn’t this weekend.

Like millions of eager bargain-hunting shoppers across the nation, Hunter was lured to her local shopping mall at 6:30 a.m. to cash in on the post-Thanksgiving Day early bird specials. Her plans for some early morning shopping before going to work, however, were cut short when she walked into Sears and saw the already snaking check-out lines.

“I found a parking place quite easily, but by the time I got in there, there were lines at the cash registers!” Hunter said. “I knew I didn’t have enough time to get to work.”

The morning’s disappointment didn’t deter Hunter from battling this weekend’s throngs of shoppers once again as she returned to Sears after work Saturday afternoon, but she said she’ll never attempt the post-Thanksgiving shopping scramble again.

“It was the first time I did that, and I’ll never do that again!” Hunter said. “If I hadn’t had to have gone to work, I wouldn’t have gone. I can’t stand crowds.”

Crowds upwards of 133 million shoppers flooded malls nationwide the day after Thanksgiving, or “Black Friday”—so named because it allegedly is the day when retailers begin to turn a profit for the year. But some, like local resident Rachel Snead, purposefully avoided the malls. “I usually go, but not this year,” said Snead, who traditionally hits the Black Friday sales racks with her daughter around 8 a.m. “I had 20 people over for Thanksgiving dinner, and I didn’t recuperate soon enough to make it out to the malls Friday morning.”

Despite Snead’s absence, post-Thanksgiving Day sales totaled $22.8 billion, which represents 10 percent of the $220 billion total holiday sales this year, according to the National Retail Federation, a Washington-based retail trade association.

Local residents Angelica Garcia and Jaime Morales and their daughters Vanessa and Tanya, undaunted by the frenzy of weekend shoppers, were at the Streets at Southpoint shopping mall Friday morning at 8 a.m., and they were still bargain hunting Sunday evening at Wal-Mart. “We heard on the TV that there were sales,” Morales said.

Pointing to his black fleece sweater and khaki cargo pants, Morales explained that he bought them discounted at Southpoint. Tanya and Vanessa also got new boots and jeans during Friday’s spree.

Garcia and the Morales’ were not the only weekend shoppers at Southpoint, which extended its operating hours Friday and Saturday to accommodate traffic.

Swarms of grandmothers with their grandchildren and mothers with their children—but not their husbands—could be found milling through racks of clothing, said senior Starling Johnson, a sales associate at J. Crew in Southpoint.

“The mall itself was slammed. You could not find a parking spot,” Johnson said. “It took me 15 minutes to find one Friday.”

She noted, however, that few Duke students, most of whom were away on break, were to be found at Southpoint this weekend. “There were definitely a lot of high school and college-age girls, but less Duke kids than most weekends,” she said, adding that Parents’ Weekend usually draws the most students from Duke to Southpoint.

J. Crew, like many of the other stores at Southpoint, made sure it was prepared to handle the heightened shopping traffic by swamping the store’s floor with sales associates.

“Almost nobody was allowed off; we always had three people at the register—one in the fitting rooms and all the others were just walking around,” Johnson said. “We definitely were busy, but we were prepared to deal with the business.”


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