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Duke City retailers, shoppers jump-start Black Friday


Jarrod Watson, center, stands in a check out line at JC Penney at Cottonwood Mall loaded down with sale items about 15 minutes after JC Penney opened their doors at 2 p.m. Thanksgiving Day in Albuquerque. (Marla Brose/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2017 Albuquerque Journal

Shoppers had countless Black Friday deals, discounts and doorbusters awaiting them Thursday afternoon and early evening as chain store operators kicked off the holiday shopping season a bit earlier than previous years.

Over a thousand people snaked around the JC Penney store at Cottonwood Mall, which opened at 2 p.m., the retailer’s earliest Thanksgiving opening yet, according to a store official.

Shoppers said they hoped to score gift cards totaling as much as $100 or $500 to apply to their purchases; however, most ended up with gift cards for $10. A few said they were in line to kill time prior to their Thanksgiving meals, or they were staggering early Black Friday shopping visits at their favorite stores.

Hundreds and hundreds of people were in lines that snaked around JC Penney at Cottonwood Mall when the store opened their doors at 2 p.m. on Thursday. (Marla Brose/Albuquerque Journal)

JC Penney Store Manager Matthew Curry said the earlier opening at both the Cottonwood and Coronado Center locations is in keeping with an industry trend to give consumers a jump-start on seasonal deals, not to mention boost sales for the brick-and-mortar operators.

Penney’s will remain open until 10 p.m. on Friday, Curry said. He expected top sellers to include boots, toys such as “Baby Alive” and small kitchen appliances, such as the air fryer.

“Yes, they shop all through the night,” he stated.

Indeed, many retailers have been offering early Black Friday deals for many days now, stretching what was once a one-day shopping frenzy into a week or more of sales.

The National Retail Federation is predicting as much as a 4 percent increase in holiday shopping this year for a total of $682 billion. That’s up from last year’s $655 billion. The Federation said the most popular items purchased will include gift cards and clothing and accessories.

Too lazy to head to the malls? Mobile shopping is also expected to increase by about 13 percent. According to Adobe Digital Insights, this holiday season will be the first to break $100 billion in online sales with more than $19 billion coming from Thanksgiving Weekend alone.

On the earlier-the-better front, Best Buy, Kohl’s, Toys R Us and several other big-box stores opened at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving this year in Albuquerque.

And outdoors retailer Cabela’s welcomed its first shoppers at 8 a.m. on Thursday, but it was just a regular shopping day. Still, for a day without doorbusters or sales items, a store official said 50 people were already in line prior to opening. A steady stream of customers were scoping out products while employees were stocking shelves and tagging merchandise in anticipation of the Black Friday opening.

Once Cabela’s closed at 6 p.m. on Thursday, diehards were expected to seek coveted places in line. “A few customers will be camping overnight,” said Chris Bellantoni, the Albuquerque store’s marketing manager. He said the retailer would put out portable heaters to take off the chill.

Doors opened at 5 a.m. today and the first 600 Cabela’s customers in line, 18 years of age or older, will be eligible to receive a mystery envelope containing information about their gifts.

Some early bird shoppers were able to squeeze in the traditional Thanksgiving dinner with family and friends before heading out to the stores on Thursday.

Sisters Lupe Madrid and Viola Bermudez were in camp chairs at the Best Buy Cottonwood Corners store. They even had a makeshift table to hold their coffee, laptops and cellphones. With shopping lists in hand, the two sisters were the family’s “designated shoppers” and waiting to purchase 50-inch TVs for what they called rock bottom prices.

But Thanksgiving dinner?

“It’s already cooked,” declared Madrid, who showed up at 6 a.m. on Thursday. “We got this organized mom thing down to a tee,” she grinned.

Some of the shoppers at Best Buy had come as early as Wednesday afternoon. They sacked out during the night in tents and were making do with McDonald’s.

Back at JC Penney, aisles were heavy with bargain seekers and checkout lines were long within a half hour of opening.

“We had to rush dinner to get here,” said Emily Watson, who much preferred the old school Black Fridays when dinner was done and the dishes washed. “It’s OK, but I think this is too early” of a kick start to the holiday shopping season, she said.

Her husband, Jarrod, loaded down with merchandise for both home and gifts, nodded agreement.