Black Friday Gets a Little Less Frenzied

Stores welcomed a second wave of shoppers Friday in what has become a two-day kickoff to the holiday shopping season.

The big question: How much will Thanksgiving shopping hurt Black Friday, which is relinquishing its status as the frenzied start of the holiday shopping season?

Woodfield Mall opened at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day and will stay open for 28 hours straight to give customers more flexibility to take advantage of blockbuster deals.

The mall was consistently busy all night and early Friday morning, but parking lots and crowds weren't too outrageous by mid-morning, possibly because of special Thanksgiving offers and online shopping.

At the Westfield Fox Valley mall in Aurora, the mood was calm Friday morning. Parking spaces were plentiful and lines in many stores short or nonexistent. Some groggy shoppers were still in pajama pants, coffee in hand.

Kimberly States, who was shopping with her 11-year-old daughter, said it was markedly more quiet around 6:30 a.m. Friday than it was the night before, when she made her first trip to the mall to pick up some holiday deals.

"It was a zoo last night around 10 p.m.," States said. "Now it seems like more of the old folks."

Last year, sales on Black Friday slumped 13.2 percent to $9.74 billion, according to ShopperTrak, which tracks data at more than 70,000 stores globally. Bill Martin, co-founder of ShopperTrak, says it's still uncertain how stores will fare Friday.

In a fiercely competitive retailing climate, stores have been opening earlier into Thanksgiving. This year, retailers pushed the best deals to Thanksgiving to get shoppers first before they run out of money. That could mean bargain hunters who wanted to keep Thanksgiving sacred will feel disappointed on Friday.

With stores offering more deals earlier in the month, the holiday weekend has become less important. But the period still sets the tone for the shopping season, whose sales are expected to rise 4.1 percent to $611.9 billion. That would be the biggest increase since 2011.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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