By Samantha Adams, Staff Writer
Retailers rolled out sales earlier than ever for the 2011 Black Friday weekend.
Toys R Us began its sales at 9 p.m. and Walmart began an hour later, making it possible for people to begin what was for some an all-night shopping experience up to three hours earlier than the year before.
National Retail Federation spokesperson Kathy Grannis said in a Nov. 23 blog post on blog.nrf.com that retailers decided to make their sales earlier this year based on consumers’ behavior from last year.
“Believe it or not, last year NRF found that nearly 10 percent of all holiday shoppers said they started shopping by midnight on Black Friday,” Grannis wrote in the post. “Another 24 percent were at stores by 4 a.m. When asked why retailers would open so early, it’s plain to see there is a huge demand for these early-morning holiday sales. Being in the business of people-pleasing, retailers this year are happy to oblige with super savings starting as early as 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving night.”
The earlier sale hours seem to have worked; 2011 Black Friday weekend shopping was at a record high.
A Nov. 27 NRF press release said in-store and online shoppers from Nov. 24 to Nov. 26 totaled 226 million, a record-setting number, up from last year’s 212 million shoppers, according to a BIGresearch survey conducted from Nov. 24 to Nov. 26.
Jackson resident and Union student Bree McCuin, freshman political science major, contributed to the high consumer count, but without standing in line in a store. She used her Apple iPad to shop online during the Black Friday weekend.
McCuin said she appreciated how convenient it was to shop on the iPad. She was not the only one. Tablet devices played a part in this year’s record-breaking Black Friday weekend sale.
Of the $52.4 billion spent during the Black Friday weekend, 57.1 percent of Americans who own tablet devices, such as iPads and TouchPads, said they had or planned to use them to shop, according to the BIGresearch survey. In addition, 37.4 percent said they would also use their tablets to research products they were considering buying the weekend after Thanksgiving.
Retailers also marketed their sales on social media sites and through promotions to email subscribers.
For some students, old-fashioned marketing tools, such as ads, convinced them to shop.
Michelle Lee, sophomore business management major, and her friends learned about deals through print ads and word-of-mouth, then ventured out to Old Navy on Black Friday.
“This is the first year we shopped (on Black Friday),” said Lee, who is from Malaysia. “Last year, we just went for fun and observations.”
Both years, the opportunities to people-watch were abundant as stores were filled with chaos.
The shopping continued into Cyber Monday.
The NRF reported in a Nov. 27 press release that a BIGresearch survey found 16 million more people than last year planned to shop online. This is perhaps because, according to the press release, eight in 10 retailers offered online deals with advance advertisements