With the effects of the tryptophan wearing off, woozy consumers across the nation assembled at shopping centers and warehouse stores to celebrate and participate in our most sacred post-Thanksgiving hangover ritual: Black Friday. El Bloombito summed up the nation's mood quite efficiently: "Es Blackegro Fridayernes! Helpayudo stimulate el economido by shoppingo till tus droppingo!"
The festivities got started early this year, with more stores opening at midnight than ever before, not to mention the ones opening last night. According to the National Retail Federation, an estimated 152 million Americans will shop this weekend—that would be a ten percent increase over last year. Macy's CEO said there were nearly 10,000 outside the store, wrapping around the block in Herald Square, when it opened at midnight.
More than 300 people waited to enter the Union Square Best Buy store at midnight as well, including many tourists who came to the city for this experience: "Particularly I came here to see the Empire State but the I thought—I saw the line and I got excited, and I thought, okay, let’s give it a try," one tourist told NY1. In an attempt to accomodate bargain-hungry customers, Toys 'R' Us in Times Square opened at 9 p.m. last night—Dexter Valles and Yasmin Santiago explained to the Times that "cheap prices" was the main reason they were there immediately after their meal: “We have twice the children, and half the income," Valles said. Santiago noted she was on a leave of absence from her job to participate.
Old Navy went one further than Toys 'R' Us, staying open throughout Thanksgiving day and night. Some lined up outside said shopping on Thanksgiving was a worthy alternative to the mad rush of Black Friday: "As long as nobody dies, it's all good, because I've heard of the people falling, being trampled just to get stuff on sale. That's crazy."
Other stores, such as the H&M on 34th Street, were forced to open at 4 a.m. instead of 5 a.m. after the crowd became increasingly rowdy and started pushing against the doors. "People were pushing and jumping the line. It was cold, and I was squashed up, I couldn't move; they pushed me forward. I got a scratch off; I was a bit nervous and didn't want to open it. Then I did and I saw $300, and I screamed, 'Oh, my God!' I came here with $50 and now I have $350," 13-year-old Bronx native Banbe Kanoute, who lined up just after midnight, told the Post.
"I didn't go to bed last night," Jodi Lawton of Mexico told Syracuse.com while waiting at a seating area inside Great Northern mall in Clay. "We were at Walmart and Best Buy by 9:30 a.m. Walmart was crazy. Crazy. I didn't get everything I wanted, but enough to make it worth my while," Lawton said. She had a half-dozen full shopping bags at her feet around 5:48 a.m.
That craziness spread all over as well: in Syracuse, two women were injured and a man has been charged after a fight broke out at an upstate Wal-Mart store. Meanwhile in SoHo, the Observer reports that teen clothing store Hollister was burglarized by a crowd of shoppers that had grown impatient while waiting in line outside, and had to be closed.
At the end of the day, it seems the deals are still worth the crowds to many consumers. J.J. Harris, who arrived at JCPenny in Freeport at 4:25 a.m. this morning, said she and her sister Beverley Bennett were both retired and on fixed incomes, so shopping for deals was imperative: "You can't beat the prices. We're trying to stretch those dollars," Harris told Newsday. "For us, it's fun, too, especially for me, because it's an event that doesn't happen in my neck of the woods," said Bennett, who is from France. "I can't wait to go back and tell people about this."