Some people spent Thanksgiving camping for bargains, getting a start on Christmas and feeling guilty about shopping — but they numbered about half what Black Friday will bring.
The shoppers come out mostly at night.
By the early hours of most Black Fridays, thousands of people have typically thronged parking lots and shoved retail employees to the side in search of bargains — because that’s when the best deals are offered, and because there is still some guilt about shopping on Thanksgiving Day.
That was apparent from some of the folks who got an early jump on their holiday shopping Thursday.
“I shouldn’t be out shopping on Thanksgiving,” said Lori McGinnis, of Renton, who swung by Big Lots in Kent on Thursday morning with her partner, Heather Torres.
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While “Joy to the World” blasted over the sound system, they looked for a kitchen cabinet, and artwork for their newly remodeled family room.
Despite the guilt, they had little going on at home. Dinner would come later in the day, and Torres’ son, Matthew, was sleeping in, preparing for a 10-hour shift at Southcenter Mall that was to begin Friday at 1 a.m. — when the shoppers are out.
Some 41 million people were expected to shop Thanksgiving Day this year, according to a survey by the International Council of Shopping Centers and Goldman Sachs.
Almost twice that number — 80.5 million — are expected on Black Friday, so-called because that’s when many retailers reach profitability for the year.
Although Target and Wal-Mart opened in the evening on Thanksgiving, and many more stores were expected to swing open their doors at midnight, some chains put a few people on the registers Thursday while the rest of the country watched parades and football, ate themselves into stupors, or stocked store shelves for Friday’s frenzy.
Preparing for Friday
Although lines were short on Thursday, many retail employees scurried around local Old Navy, Big Lots and Kmart stores in preparation for Friday.
Some shoppers make a ritual of post-Thanksgiving shopping.
People regularly camp outside Best Buy stores for days, occasionally with power generators and big-screen televisions.
More down-to-earth is Tommy Truong, of Kent, who has been in the newspaper and on television repeatedly for being first in line at the Best Buy near Southcenter Mall, as he was for several years in the mid-2000s and again this year.
As a police car swung by and a friend dropped by with tacos, Truong and fellow campers pointed out their “beer pong” table, where they say they play a popular college game using water, and where in the middle of the night they sometimes play table tennis.
This year, they arrived on Monday night and weathered the cold and downpours for a few laptops, televisions and possibly a camera — plus the fun of hanging out all day in a parking lot and getting on television.
That kind of shopping madness is lost on Monique Rankin, of Renton, who with her husband and stepson, both named Anthony, got a fair bit of Christmas shopping done at Kmart before Thanksgiving dinner.
She enjoys missing the Friday crush.
“I’ve never found a deal that was good enough to wait in an hourlong line,” she said.
Melissa Allison: 206-464-3312 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter @AllisonSeattle.