Black Fri­day deal hunt

Shop­pers scour stores for sales in Cen­tral Florida

Orlando Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE - By Austin Fuller

Blair Ballin and her mother’s Black Fri­day in­cluded buy­ing early Christ­mas gifts for each other af­ter start­ing the day at about 6:30 a.m. at the Kohl’s in Al­ta­monte Springs.

The 24-year-old Apopka res­i­dent landed an espresso ma­chine there from mom, marked down from about $250 to $100 be­fore an­other 10% dis­count.

“I got the very last one,” she said. “I had to like hunt it down.”

Shop­pers hunted deals across Cen­tral Florida on Fri­day, vis­it­ing Wal­mart and other stores and malls like the one in Al­ta­monte Springs.

An es­ti­mated 165.3 mil­lion peo­ple were ex­pected to shop Thanks­giv­ing through Cy­ber Mon­day, based on an an­nual sur­vey from the Na­tional Re­tail Fed­er­a­tion and Pros­per In­sights & An­a­lyt­ics.

“We just like get­ting our hands on stuff be­cause you can ac­tu­ally like feel the sweaters. You can try it on ver­sus just look­ing at it on­line, where it’s con­ve­nient, but you don’t re­ally get that Christ­mas spirit and that rush of get­ting items.” — Sam Bald­win, Or­lando res­i­dent

On­line busi­ness dur­ing the shop­ping week­end looked to be on the rise based on early fig­ures. Con­sumers spent $4.2 bil­lion on­line on Thanks­giv­ing, up 14.5% over last year, ac­cord­ing to Adobe An­a­lyt­ics, which an­a­lyzes vis­its to more than 4,500 re­tail sites.

Black Fri­day on­line sales were at $600 mil­lion by 9 a.m. Fri­day and were on track to hit $7.4 bil­lion, ac­cord­ing to Adobe An­a­lyt­ics.

About 20% of to­tal hol­i­day sales are ex­pected to be spent on­line, said James Bohnaker, an economist with IHS Markit. He added that dis­counts started ear­lier than Black Fri­day.

“Fewer peo­ple are treat­ing Black Fri­day as like the only day, or the only week­end, that you can find good deals,” he said.

All those on­line sales didn’t stop peo­ple like Blair Ballin, her mother, 55-year-old Au­drey Ballin of Apopka, and aunt, 61-year-old Kathy Mag­nu­son of Lady Lake, from hit­ting the stores. Blair Ballin re­cip­ro­cated her early Christ­mas gift by get­ting her mom an in­stant pot, which was also marked down.

By the time the three women paused later that morn­ing at the Al­ta­monte Mall, they’d added shop­ping bags from Bath & Body Works, Dil­lard’s and Macy’s. The in-per­son shop­ping helped the fam­ily get in the Christ­mas spirit.

“We get to hang out to­gether,” Ballin said. “They’re a lot of fun.”

More stops were planned for the fam­ily, in­clud­ing at Hobby Lobby, Big Lots and Bed Bath & Be­yond.

In­side the Al­ta­monte Mall, re­tail­ers were of­fer­ing a va­ri­ety of dis­counts. Aero­postale ad­ver­tised 60-70% off mer­chan­dise while Ba­nana Repub­lic of­fered 50% off.

At the Cas­sel­berry Wal­mart off Se­moran Boule­vard, Heather Peeples pe­rused the dis­counted movies shortly af­ter 8:30 a.m. Prices ranged from as low as $1.96 to $19.96.

“Th­ese DVDs are what brings me out,” she said. “Usu­ally, I come like 7, 8 o’clock [in the morn­ing] and there’s still plenty here.”

The 47-year-old Long­wood res­i­dent, who has a 5-year-old son and an “al­most” 13-year-old daugh­ter, picked out movies like “Spi­der-Man: Home­com­ing,” for $5.96, and “Fan­tas­tic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindel­wald,” for $7.96.

She shopped with an im­por­tant item in hand: her cof­fee.

“One year I did the mid­night thing and the lines were all the way around the store and I didn’t get any­thing spec­tac­u­lar,” Peeples said.

But be­ing out on Black Fri­day didn’t mean that Peeples also wouldn’t do some Christ­mas shop­ping on­line.

“I have a whole lot on my Ama­zon list as well,” Peeples said.

Cus­tomers also came out to Or­lando Fash­ion Square.

Sam Bald­win, a 26-year-old Or­lando res­i­dent, was look­ing for an ugly Christ­mas sweater with his wife in the Dil­lard’s Clear­ance Cen­ter. Signs out­side that store ad­ver­tised an ad­di­tional 50% off mer­chan­dise.

“We just like get­ting our hands on stuff be­cause you can ac­tu­ally like feel the sweaters,” he said. “You can try it on ver­sus just look­ing at it on­line, where it’s con­ve­nient but you don’t re­ally get that Christ­mas spirit and that rush of get­ting items.”

SARAH ESPEDIDO/OR­LANDO SENTINEL

Kathy Mag­nu­son, Blair Ballin and Au­drey Ballin go shop­ping on Black Fri­day at Al­ta­monte Mall. “We get to hang out to­gether,” 24-year-old Blair Ballin said. “They’re a lot of fun.”

SARAH ESPEDIDO/OR­LANDO SENTINEL

“Th­ese DVDs are what brings me out,” said Heather Peeples. She pe­rused the bar­gains at Wal­mart on Black Fri­day 2019.

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