Saturday, November 19, 2011

Black Friday looks to be a bigger deal than ever - Stores across the country will likely be packed with plenty more bargain hunters this year

It was a 4 a.m. rush hour for most Black Friday shoppers last year. Photo by AP

It was a 4 a.m. rush hour for most Black Friday shoppers last year.

Black Friday shoppers, get ready to sharpen those elbows.

Stores across the country will likely be packed with plenty more bargain hunters on this year’s big holiday-season buying weekend, according to a new survey by the National Retail Federation.

With a growing number of major retailers planning to open earlier than ever on Black Friday — midnight on Nov. 25, which will mark the official start of the holiday shopping season — stores and malls will have up to 10% more frenzied consumers than last year jamming aisles and looking for great deals, the NRF said.

Up to 152 million people plan to shop the weekend after Thanksgiving, either at stores or online — about 14 million more than the 138 million who planned to do so in 2010.

“We are fully expecting Black Friday to be a very big day for shoppers this year,” said National Retail Federation spokeswoman Kathy Grannis .

“Typically in an economic downturn, shoppers look to this weekend to really make a dent in their holiday shopping lists because the deals are so good, and the midnight openings are a direct result of retailers responding to consumer demand,” Grannis said.

Several national chains with New York-area stores, including Best Buy, Macy’s, Target and Kohl’s, are letting customers in at midnight for the first time rather than the 4 or 5 a.m. Black Friday openings of the past.

Toys “R” Us and Wal-Mart are opening even earlier — 9 p.m. and 10 p.m., respectively, on Thanksgiving night.

The survey also found that shoppers are increasingly using social media sites to hunt for bargains. More than 17% will monitor retailers’ Facebook pages, while 11.3% will visit group-buying deal sites such as Groupon and LivingSocial. 

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