Shoppers were out looking for bargains

When the Belk department store in the Wildwood Shopping Center in California opened at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving the wait started at the door and went all the way down one side of the center to the Dollar General Store. That followed a brisk shopping day on Wednesday.

Belk had a store wide sale on Black Friday on many items from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. As the deadline for that sale was approaching, the store was packed with shoppers. A salesperson told the Bay Net on Saturday that Black Friday was his best sales day ever. On Saturday the store was holding a similar store-wide sale yet the floors were relatively quiet by comparison.

Where before stores used to concentrate their Black Friday sales on several early morning hours and for a few lost leaders at ridiculously low prices, now the start of the holiday shopping season extends over several days, including Thanksgiving, and with more items on sale as shoppers are on the continuous prowl for bargains.

Because of the extended shopping hours, some media around the country were reporting less frantic Black Friday openings, meaning shoppers were indeed taking advantage of times that were more convenient for them. How that change in strategy will pan out remains to be seen, awaiting release of the November sales figures.

A check on shopping center parking lots in Southern Maryland showed heavy traffic but vacant spaces available for more shoppers. Our Charles County reporter Joe Norris reported a crowded St. Charles Towne Center on Friday afternoon, but nothing overwhelming.

As in years past some of the bricks and mortar sales may be transferring to online shopping.  Adobe’s 2014 Digital Index reported a monthly 14-percent increase in online sales through November 28. Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday online sales set records. Mobile device shopping also set records. Cyber Monday sales figures could be a telling sign.

Some analysts were predicting that shoppers would be doing online research but still spending at the retail stores during the holiday season.

Black Friday turned out to be bleak Friday for Best Buy’s online sales, with the retailer’s website experiencing significant problems well into Saturday.

As the holiday shopping season commenced, police agencies in the region were also gearing up to protect shoppers from thieves attempting to prey on them. On Friday afternoon at the Walmart in California, St. Mary’s County Sheriff Tim Cameron briefed a group of his deputies on how to ensure citizens carrying packages to cars are not accosted by the bad guys.

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