It's Crazy Out There!

Nov 23, 2012

South Florida shoppers wiped the turkey gravy off their lips and got in line to shop last night as Black Friday morphed backward into Thursday to kick off an ever-earlier Christmas shopping season.

Shopping Smiles: Awaiting their chance at the bargains, shoppers took seats on the concrete at a Kendall BrandsMart USA store.
Credit Luisa Yanez / Miami Herald

Lines for the early deals began forming before sundown on Thanksgiving and the scenes at the big boxes and malls grew more hectic and even chaotic overnight.

Reporters were also out all night. Doreen Christensen of the Sun-Sentinel staked out a Plantation toy store:

Chris and Monica Thomas of Sunrise also arrived at Toys R Us at about 4:30 p.m. with the goal of bringing home a Barbie Power Wheels car, which was reduced by $150. 

"You cant beat that price," said Chris Thomas shortly after 7 p.m.  as they waited for the store to open. The Thomases were among the first 20 people in a line of more than 150 that snaked around the building.

It was the second Black Friday Toys R Us pre-opening camp out for Sunrise resident Amber Reul and her mom Teresa Cook of Davie. 

The Miami Herald is live-tweeting the whole event.  Its reporters found long lines, scarce parking and ad hoc order keeping all night into the early morning:

5:45 AM Aventura Mall Macy’s was open but the entrance to the mall from the department store was closed. The mall opens at 6. Customers could not get into the Mall from Macy’s before 6 and had to walk outside to one of the mall entrances. An employee and a security guard said that was a mistake. Cars started backing up on the mall perimeter road, but plenty of parking spaces were still available. Around the corner from the mall, three Aventura police cars, lights flashing, were stationed next to a sign warning drivers to wear a seatbelt or face a ticket.

3:20 AM Dadeland Mall Most shoppers are standing in line for coffee at Starbucks, eating Bourbon chicken from Kelly’s Cajun Grill, munching on a pretzel from Auntie Anne’s or taking a cat nap. Those leaving are carrying bags from Macy’s, the Disney Store, Bath and Body Works, and Victoria’s Secret.

Why do we do this? Because we must, says Politico:

The earlier hours are an effort by stores to make shopping as convenient as possible for Americans, who they fear won't spend freely during the two-month holiday season in November and December because of economic uncertainty. Many shoppers are worried about high unemployment and a package of tax increases and spending cuts known as the "fiscal cliff" that will take effect in January unless Congress passes a budget deal by then. At the same time, Americans have grown more comfortable shopping on websites that offer cheap prices and the convenience of being able to buy something from smartphones, laptops and tablet computers from just about anywhere.

But the backlash against last night's early store-opening continued. It came from Thanksgiving traditionalists, people who struggle against materialism and newspaper editorials, like this one from the Dallas Morning News,  in defense of store employees:

These employees — as well as workers at Target, Sears and other retailers — believe that their crusade to save a sliver of holiday family time is a stand against heartless corporate behemoths who care more about profits than about their workforce.

The grand foe is not corporate greed. It’s the ravenous desire of consumers for stuff.

These cravings are the same ones that result in news headlines such as those from Thanksgiving night last year when a California woman, with her two children in tow, used pepper spray to attack her way to the front of the line at a Wal-Mart in order to grab a super-discounted Xbox 360 video game console.

Retailers were expecting a four percent increase in sales over last year's Black Friday. One survey predicted that 17 percent of American shoppers would be taking advantage of the controversial late  Thanksgiving shopping hours.