MURRAY — People got a head start on Christmas shopping and hit the stores Thursday night as some big box retailers opened their doors for Black Friday earlier than ever this year.
Between 8,000 and 10,000 people were inside the Fashion Place Mall when it opened its doors at midnight. But for some, the mall was not their first stop. Walmart, Target, Toys R Us and Sears were among retailers that opened their doors Thanksgiving day for Black Friday shopping.
If you have more shopping to do, but don't like crowds, you have to know shoppers' habits and how they behave. There were the early birds all night long, the sleeper-iners who went out mid-morning. City Creek General Manager Linda Wardell says the traffic grows from there to peak between 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. If you don't like crowds, come between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. "That's when everybody goes home to have their second round of turkey and trimmings so it's a really good time to come," Wardell said. "Then tonight we'll start to get really busy again." Wardell has seen 25 Black Fridays in the retail business but today is City Creek's first, and they've been preparing for two years. Some shoppers like to go try things on and look at the products, others say they'll look for the Black Friday deals online today instead and that may cut some crowds too. Also, not all Black Friday deals are the best to be had. Websites like decide.com track sale prices over several years and can give you some perspective on current sales. It may be better to wait, if you're able to get the gift in time elsewhere.Contributing:Jennifer Stagg
The sale, which has become a tradition for many holiday shoppers, is the biggest shopping day of the year.
Downtown at City Creek, Gateway and Trolley Square, managers declared the day a success. They say that the experience the malls provide for shoppers makes the difference and that will help them all survive.
At City Creek, there were no stampeding crowds or midnight openings. Rather, those looking to escape the stereotypical Black Friday experience enjoyed a day of shopping.
"I don't like tons of crowds, I like more the atmosphere," said shopper Lisa Packer.
Managers at City Creek say it's their stores and brands that draw the crowds, though many people will go on to check out other downtown shopping destinations. According to a study on downtown business, nearly 50 percent of the people who go to visit City Creek go on to visit other areas downtown.
At the nearby Gateway Mall, managers say several stores had strong showings for midnight openings.
"Now downtown has more to offer," said Rochelle Fraser for Gateway. "So we're just super excited about the turnout."
Trolley Square crowds were noticeably smaller in number, but managers said the experience was focused on the customer.
"Our customers come here rather than going to the big box retailers because they can enjoy themselves more," said owner of Tabula Rasa and Cabin Fever Sean Bradley. "It's not crowded, we really focus on customer service."
Still, some shoppers sacrificed customer service for deep price cuts on items they wanted.
One shopper's minivan storage area was piled high with presents and they were only about halfway done with shopping. He said the sale is an annual tradition for his family.
"Keep in mind, this is for how many grandkids? A dozen grandkids and brothers and sisters," he said. "We try to get it all done in one fell swoop."
At 6am, Ciera Pekarcik had been shopping for eight hours. This first-time Black Friday shopper wasn't too impressed.
"They trick you. They put half of the store on sale, which pulls you in, but most of it's just everyday prices," Pekarcik said. "I think it's the excitement and the hype, and I find myself just wanting to buy stuff."
Electronics are a staple for Black Friday shoppers, and they poured into Best Buy at midnight, and Target at 9 p.m. Thursday to get their hands on cheap gadgets.
Many stores are extending sales through Cyber Monday.