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After Thanksgiving, Americans Pursue Another Tradition — Shopping

People enter Macy's Herald Square store after opening its doors at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day in New York City.
Kena Betancur
Getty Images
People enter Macy's Herald Square store after opening its doors at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day in New York City.

Black Friday — the day on which Christmas shopping starts in earnest for many Americans — may have started on Thanksgiving Day this year, but it gave many shoppers extra time to hunt for deals.

NPR's Sonari Glinton spoke to shoppers in Colorado Springs, Colo., where people were camped out Thursday to get deals at the local Target.

"Do you think I need sweaters at Kohl's? No!" Janine Reed said. "But they're 10 bucks. You think I'm going to get one? Yeah – just 'cause."

Shoppers in Rome, Ga., lined up at the mall well before 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving for deals on footwear. Georgia Public Broadcasting's Joshua Stewart filed this report for our Newscast unit:

"Mount Berry Square Mall opened at 8 p.m., the earliest ever for the shopping center 70 miles northwest of Atlanta. Mall operations manager Tricia Dillard says shoppers beat her to work last night.

"'I pulled up to the mall around 6 p.m., and when I pulled up, Belk already had a line going around the building. So they were here before I was here.'

"Dillard says the Belk store was selling $20 boots and giving away gift cards to the first 200 or so shoppers. She says shoppers seemed to have more stamina this year — the mall was packed until about 2 a.m. That's the same time things quieted down last year, but then the mall didn't open until midnight."

In Alexandria, Va., Zena Seymour did some of her shopping at the Toys R Us. "For me it worked out. ... I feel bad for the employees that obviously have to work," she said.

The Friday after Thanksgiving is the day that retailers traditionally go "into the black" as stores across the nation offer massive discounts to lure shoppers. But as Sonari reports, the deals and door-buster sales keep getting earlier and earlier each year — and that's actually beginning to cut into profits:

" 'It's actually becoming almost like something that [stores] are obligated to do,' says Marshal Cohen, the chief retail analyst with the MPD group.

"He says retailers are kind of between a rock and a hard place because expanding the season kind of ends up hurting them. 'In many cases, they're doing so much business that provides very little margin, that they're really not generating enough business to really be worthwhile anymore.'


"Cohen says he believes that retailers and consumers are going to come to their senses — eventually."

Last year, shoppers spent $810 million on the day of Thanksgiving alone. Overall, early indications are that spending is up from a year ago — but not sharply, according to Steve Beckner of Market News International.

"Rising stock prices and low interest rates will favor holiday sales of upper-end consumers," but others have job fears, said Richard Curtin, director of the University of Michigan's Consumer Sentiment Survey.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Krishnadev Calamur is NPR's deputy Washington editor. In this role, he helps oversee planning of the Washington desk's news coverage. He also edits NPR's Supreme Court coverage. Previously, Calamur was an editor and staff writer at The Atlantic. This is his second stint at NPR, having previously worked on NPR's website from 2008-15. Calamur received an M.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri.