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Hold the turkey: Eager shoppers snag Thanksgiving deals at Wichita stores

Black Friday shoppers fill the aisles of Target on West Maple. The doors opened at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving and the first few folks began arriving at 11:30 a.m.
Black Friday shoppers fill the aisles of Target on West Maple. The doors opened at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving and the first few folks began arriving at 11:30 a.m. The Wichita Eagle

Hold the turkey and bring on the sales.

Some shoppers got a jump on their Black Friday spending a day early by taking advantage of deals a few Wichita stores offered on Thanksgiving Day.

Over the past decade, Black Friday has tiptoed into Amercans’ turkey dinners as retailers tried to get a jump on the biggest shopping day of the year.

Big Lots opened at 7 a.m. Thursday, one of the earliest times in Wichita.

Cabela’s welcomed customers at 8. It’s the first time the store has been open on Thanksgiving, following the lead of Bass Pro Shops, which acquired Cabela’s last year, said Katie Mitchell, communications manager for Bass Pro Shops Group.

“Bass Pro has always been open on Thanksgiving. It’s a family tradition,” Mitchell said.

Kyle Brower, general manager of the Wichita Cabela’s store at 2427 Greenwich, said traffic has been good, especially after lunch Thursday.

“People like to get out and walk off their Thanksgiving meals in the afternoon,” he said, adding that this year’s Santa Wonderland — free crafts, games and visits with the man in red daily through Christmas — has also been a draw.

J.C. Penney’s, meanwhile, started their discounts after lunchtime, opening at 2 p.m.

Best Buy, Kohl’s, Walmart, Target and Sears held off until early evening to begin their wave of price drops.

In years past, these Thanksgiving-evening sales were prime displays of people’s uglier sides, as shoppers would jostle each other around, even elbowing in some cases to get their prized doorbuster deal.

Not so this year, at least at Target.

At Wichita’s Target store at Maple and Ridge on Thursday, a line started forming around 2:30 p.m. — most shoppers at the front of the line said they were eager to purchase a 55-inch television on special for $199.

But as soon as doors opened at 5 p.m., shoppers walked — no running — into the store, calmly picking up their items and checking out.

As the line, which wrapped halfway around the building, dissipated, a security guard told shoppers, “Slow and easy — nothing in there worth getting hurt over.”

Shoppers didn’t even have to be in line at 5 p.m. to snag some of the best deals — even well after doors had opened, plenty of Xbox One consoles, big-screen televisions, movies, video games and other prized electronics were in good supply.

But overall the Thanksgiving shopping trend could be reversing. A growing number of brick-and-mortar stores opted to stay closed Thursday and give employees the day off. Those include nearly 100 well-known national and regional retailers such as Dillard’s, Lowes, Home Depot, Menards and Von Maur, according to www.bestblackfriday.com.

Several, like Academy Sports and Costco, said increased family time for both employees and customers was the reason for shutting doors on Thanksgiving.

Others, like Best Buy, say they stayed open because their customers want it.

“We have millions of customers so part of it is certainly demand, but people have made tradition of coming out to stores to shop,” Boua Xiong, a spokeswoman for Best Buy, told The Seattle Times.

About a quarter of Americans surveyed by www.bestblackfriday.com said they like that stores offered Thanksgiving Day sales.

Nearly half, 47.6 percent, don’t.

Companies that did stay closed on Thanksgiving Day won’t miss out completely, though. Most are expected to benefit from a boom in online shopping that continues to gain traction.

Even as millions of consumers will head to stores, Internet sales are predicted to jump 15 percent this year, according to Adobe Analytics, a result of changing consumer habits favoring convenience.

Last year, shoppers spent nearly $20 billion online during the five-day span from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday.

This year’s Cyber Monday is expected to yield around $7.7 billion dollars in Internet sales over the 24-hour period — making it the largest and fastest-growing online shopping day of the year, according to Adobe Analytics data. That’s up from $6.59 billion last year and $3.45 billion in 2016.

Overall Americans will spend an estimated $717 billion to $721 billion holiday shopping this year, a 4 percent increase over 2017, according to the National Retail Federation. Most money will be spent the weekend before Christmas. Black Friday weekend is second.

More than 164 million people plan to shop over the five-day period stretching from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday, according to the National Retail Federation. About 34 million shoppers, 21 percent, were planning to be out on Thanksgiving.

Black Friday will be busiest with 116 million shoppers (71 percent) followed by Cyber Monday with 75 million shoppers (46 percent) and Small Business Saturday, when 67 million consumers (41 percent) will be out.

Consumers will each spend $1,007.24 on average on gifts, decorations and other holiday items. That’s just over $40 more than last year, the National Retail Federation says.

Walmart, Target and other large retailers say plan to combat one of the biggest in-store Black Friday headaches — long lines — by sending workers throughout some stores to check out customers with mobile devices. At Macy’s, shoppers can scan and pay for items on their own smartphones.

Contributing: The Associated Press, Seattle Times and Dayton Daily News
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