Shoppers out early for Black Friday deals

Published 10:41 am Friday, November 26, 2010

Emily Andre loads bags into her car after shopping for eight hours at Walmart for Black Friday deals. -- Gwen Albers | Tidewater News

FRANKLIN—Emily Andre spent eight hours in Walmart on Black Friday.

The 17-year-old Southampton High School senior shopped the deals. She also witnessed mania when one sale began at 12:01 a.m. and the electronics sale kicked off at 5 a.m.; Andre got a laptop for $198 to share with her two brothers.

While loading her car with a cartload of purchases shortly after 6 a.m., Andre vowed she wouldn’t return next year.

“We always do this and I don’t know why,” she said about the three-generation family outing to take advantage of what many consider the year’s best buys. “This is crazy and hectic.”

Similar scenes played out across the United States as the biggest shopping day of the year got off to its earliest start yet, according to, a premier Internet website for updated business news and financial information.

Retailers view Black Friday — so named because that’s when many stores become profitable — as a gauge for the holiday season. Analysts’ estimates for holiday sales vary from little changed to increases of as much as 4.5 percent.

Franklin Belk Manager Tonya Faison said twice as many shoppers showed on Friday compared to 2009.

“I don’t know if customers want to keep us here, or the deals were so great,” Faison said.

When the department store opened at 4 a.m., about 100 people stood outside. Belk advertised giving out gift cards ranging from $5 to $1,000 for the first 250 customers. Within an hour, they were gone.

Faison suspects a $19.99 sale on boots was probably the best draw.

Wanda Outlaw and her daughter, Shakira, look over sweaters at Belks on Friday. The Franklin department store had twice as many shoppers this year than last year. -- Gwen Albers | Tidewater News

That’s what brought Wanda Outlaw and her 14-year-old daughter, Shakira, to the store from Como, N.C.

“This is our first stop because of the shoe sale,” said Wanda Outlaw, while looking over some sweaters with her daughter. “We haven’t made it there (to the shoe department) yet.”

A stop at Walmart was next on their list.

The boot sale also brought Khrystal Strozier of Franklin and her mother, Teena Strozier of Martinsburg, W.Va., to Belk.

In addition to boots, they found deals on toys and household items.