Streams of holiday makers and shopping spree fanciers took off in their droves for the traditional four day weekend last Wednesday afternoon and kicked off with hectic freeways, intersperced with hot ovens and ends with busy shop tills ringing. The latter being the hope for many eager retailers.
It has been a lean holiday weekend for shop owners in recent years but predictions have it that more Americans took to the road and skies for family celebrations in even greater numbers this year. Over 43 million people apparently traveled before and after the holiday which marked the highest number since 2007.
Traditionally the weekend is the big start to the holiday season which leads up to the Christmas festivities. Roast turkey and trimmings is normally the cuisine of choice, giving thanks for the year past and ushering in the following one with
words of hope. Black Friday followed allowing Americans to 'shop till they drop' in a buying bonanza that sees stores opening their doors as early as 3am in anticipation of a rush for bargains.
Being the country's busiest shopping day - with people traditionally queuing outside store fronts into the small hours of the morning in anticipation of the bargains inside - this year the retail industry was watched closely and with baited breath with the weekend accounting for nearly one-fifth of the retail industry's annual sales. Last year - despite the early surge of shoppers - it marked the worst holiday shopping season in four decades.
With the world's finances in disarray and headlines speaking of economic doom and gloom it will be interesting to see whether consumers will be reticent to buy or go all out this year and splurge on their loved ones. Retailers are hoping that the queues to the tills will be relentless despite the constant reminder of the country's precarious finances.
Many retailers have been pleased with the steady flow of shoppers - which has been gathering momentum since the end to the Summer holiday break. The lure of major discount deals and layaway programs has seen the stream of shoppers churning along. Stores who traditionally used to close for the Thanksgiving day celebrations will now see their doors opening towards the latter stages of that Thursday afternoon in anticipation of the big rush for the Friday discounts.
The National Retail Federation expected sales in November and December to be up 2.8 percent over last year. So retailers see little margin for error in their fight for sales. Online shopping has become the thing of today where there is no battle for bargains and experts are predicting sales will be up 15 percent this year.
Retailers know that if they want to make good their targets, they have to follow what the customer themselves want when it comes to opening and closing hours. And, as you can find anyone shopping at any god forsaken hour these days, then 24 hour shopping is but a key turn away.