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Crowds Out For Black Friday Shopping

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CHESTERFIELD, MO (KTVI) - Black Friday is a traditional boon for businesses around the country and here in St. Louis. But this year, several big box stores started their sales before Black Friday, which has impacted the flow of crowds throughout normal business hours Friday.

By Friday afternoon, Ryleigh Trotta was already well into round-two of holiday sales. The dedicated 15 year-old started shopping at midnight.  She says she shopped until 4:30am, then took a nap, then came back for more.

She says midnight shopping was a madhouse compared to hours later.  She says, “[There were] a ton of people. And the line for Victoria’s Secret was so long...we waited until 1:30 and finally got in.”

Chesterfield Mall Spokesperson Sean Phillips says more stores than ever chose to participate in the mall’s midnight opening. He explains, “The vast majority of them are saying that being open at midnight was a huge help to their sales, and a lot of them, actually, had already met their day’s sales goals by the time the whole mall opened at 5am.”

However, not everyone wanted to shop at the crack of dawn, including Brandi Unger and her two young daughters.  Unger explains, “We decided just to sleep in a little bit, enjoy the day off school, even if we missed out on some sales probably.”

To make sure shoppers like Unger didn’t miss out on sales, Phillips says many stores chose to stagger their special deals throughout the day to accommodate all of the sale-seekers: “I think to accommodate shoppers who came out at midnight, and then those shoppers that were here 4 to 5am, and then again those people that maybe went home and slept and came out to shop again right now.”

Retailers are already cashing in from the midnight openings, but Unger is also thankful, since the midnight rush made her mid-day Black Friday shopping a little less hectic. She says, “The lines haven’t been that bad, no more than five to ten minutes. Better than I had expected.”

Retail experts say stores are trying to lure customers with these extra-early sales to overcome challenges they face.  Those include more shoppers buying gifts online, and economic uncertainty facing consumers.

The National Retail Federation estimates that holiday shopping will increase about 4% from last year.