Shoppers eager to scoop up ‘Black Friday’ deals

Shoppers eager to scoop up ‘Black Friday’ deals

From Route one’s big box retailers to Old Town’s corner stores, business owners and bargain hunters alike eagerly waded into the unofficial post-Thanksgiving Black Friday shopping tradition.
At Potomac Yard’s Target outlet, store employees reported shoppers lining up around the corner as early as 3 a.m., vying for the best position to take advantage of as many sales as possible. Discounted television sets were the hottest products of the day. The retailer sold out of the sets in the first rush of shoppers. Low-priced appliances disappeared next, they said.
But by about 11 a.m., it was just another shopping day for the retail giant. Customers like Amna intentionally skipped the early morning rush, but didn’t want to miss out on the bargains. 
I woke up at 3 a.m. and I said, ‘forget it.’ It’s not worth it, the Alexandria resident said, browsing through the home goods section. Though entering the fray a little late, she still came away with a computer $250-off at nearby Staples. 
You’ve got to get your deals, Amna said. It’s nice now that the crazies aren’t out.
A few aisles away, Gustavo Guerrero perused a display of boxed table games. He’s usually out in line during the wee hours of the morning, hunting for the latest electronic device, but not this year. Guerrero’s work schedule kept him from making the morning rush, much to his disappointment.
Usually I wait in the line, so [missing] that was sad, he said. I’ll get a laptop or a DVD player or a TV, because it’s a good deal, so I’ll wait in the line.
It’s hard to say whether his spending habits have changed with the official end of the Great Recession. Rather than make a single large purchase, Guerrero got a head start on his holiday shopping for the family.
Economists and industry experts predicted shoppers would loosen the purse strings a bit after two years of tightening the belt. The average consumer will spend $688.7 on holiday shopping this year, up from $681.83 in 2009, according to the National Retailers Federation. 
Amna likely will spend more than she has in recent years after cutting her holiday shopping budget back due to the recession. It won’t be the spree retailers are hoping for though. A close friend recently was laid off, fueling her hesitation.
You have to be careful, she said. Go out and get the deals, but you have to be careful.
In Old Town, knots of shoppers and tourists meandered down King Street, umbrellas in hand to ward off the dismal weather. While there was none of the well-publicized Black Friday hoopla, there were signs the economy had made a turn for the better. 
Customers packed Jeff Bert’s interior design shop, Decorum by 9:30 a.m. The big rush doesn’t start until about 1 p.m., he said, but every shopper had left with a new purchase so far. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving, he doubled his sales from the same day a year ago. 
While the Washington metropolitan area has been touted as climbing out of the recession largely unscathed, Bert doesn’t think anyone was insulated from the worst of the economic downturn. Still, there are more people in his shop this year and that’s a good sign, he said.
More people are buying rather than looking, Bert said. I’m hoping it will be better than the last couple of years.