Even in the era of on­line, Black Fri­day lures a crowd

Merced Sun-Star (Saturday) - - Front Page - BY THAD­DEUS MILLER [email protected]­ced­sun-star.com The As­so­ci­ated Press con­trib­uted to this re­port.

A driz­zly day didn’t stop Merced-area shop­pers from get­ting deals on Black Fri­day, which con­tin­ues in its pop­u­lar­ity de­spite the on­line op­tions for hol­i­day shop­ping.

Early pre­dic­tions from a num­ber of in­dus­try groups sug­gest Amer­i­cans are on track to spend more this hol­i­day sea­son than last — and about 164 mil­lion peo­ple said they planned to start dur­ing the Thanks­giv­ing day week­end.

Steven Or­tiz packed a 55-inch Sam­sung TV into his SUV about noon on Fri­day out­side Merced’s Best Buy. The 28-year-old said Best Buy had knocked about $200 off of the $600 flat screen.

“I like to go when the crowd dies down. I don’t need no ma­jor deals,” he said. “I went to Costco this morn­ing and bought Christ­mas presents.”

The gifts were mostly for his two chil­dren, nieces and neph­ews, he said. Or­tiz wasn’t the only per­son spend­ing money the day af­ter Thanks­giv­ing.

A Na­tional Re­tail Fed­er­a­tion sur­vey es­ti­mated that con­sumers will spend, on av­er­age, about $1,007 per shop­per, which is about 4.1 per­cent more than last year.

The in­dus­try group’s sur­vey dove­tails with the re­sults of a Reuters/Ip­sos poll which found that about 39 per­cent of Amer­i­cans planned to take part in Black Fri­day shop­ping.

The un­of­fi­cial hol­i­day has waned in im­por­tance in re­cent years as com­pet­i­tive re­tail­ers open at ear­lier and ear­lier times. That trend, how­ever, seems to have tapered off, with some 100 prom­i­nent re­tail­ers de­cid­ing to re­main closed on Thanks­giv­ing day, ac­cord­ing to PwC.

Brick-and-mor­tar stores have worked hard to prove they can counter the com­pe­ti­tion from on­line be­he­moth Ama­zon.

From Macy’s to Tar­get and Wal­mart, re­tail­ers are blend­ing their on­line and store shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence with new tools like dig­i­tal maps on smart phones and more op­tions for shop­pers to buy on­line and pick up at the stores.

Black Fri­day it­self has mor­phed from a sin­gle day, when peo­ple got up early to score door busters, into a whole month of deals.

Merced County law en­force­ment said the early morn­ing shop­ping was free of any ma­jor in­ci­dents lo­cally.

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