Christmas decorations, including plush snowmen in red and green suits, lined the sale’s entrance. Behind them, other holiday decor was displayed atop boxes and tables, giving way to clothing and household appliances.
Welcome to Peggy Meyer’s third-annual Black Friday garage sale, where she is selling new and used items from her driveway on Friday and Saturday. The event is a means for Meyer to pay for her grandson Julien’s tuition to the Alexander Dawson School, where he attends on a scholarship. Meyer uses garage sales to help raise the remaining $5,000 tuition.
“It’s still a lot of money for us,” Meyer said. “This helps ease the pain of tuition.”
This isn’t your typical Black Friday sale, but then again, this isn’t your typical Black Friday.
The annual spending frenzy that signals the official start of the holiday shopping season is no longer confined to Friday, and it doesn’t appear that will go away.
Many chains started their holiday offers the Monday before Black Friday, while others opened earlier than ever on Thanksgiving Day.
Retailers are reporting that the earlier starts mean more time for shoppers to buy, and customers are responding that the earlier openings have resulted in calmer shopping environments.
“We definitely saw a great response to starting our Magical Friday deals earlier in the week,” said Elissa Margolis, vice president of marketing for Disney Store.
Friday will remain biggest day for the company, but Margolis said the stores have seen increased traffic all week. As for Friday specifically, she said sales are exceeding expectations.
The National Retail Federation estimates that holiday sales will increase 3.9 percent this year to $602 billion. In Wells Fargo’s holiday sales outlook, economists found that sales will remain restrained as economic and policy uncertainty factors into consumers’ holiday purchase decisions. But they’re expecting holiday sales to rise 3.7 percent over last year’s levels.
“We saw a bit of an uptick in sales from our mobile Web. People are responding more from their mobile device,” Margolis said.
Some popular Disney Store items involve characters from the new animated movie “Frozen,” such as a singing Olaf plush and a Sofia the First doll.
At Target on North Fifth Street on Friday morning, there were no lines, and the aisles were sprinkled with shoppers, including John Stinson, who was buying a $99 Keurig machine for his house.
“Oh that’s a great deal,” he said.
Down the way at Toys R Us and Babies R Us, checkout waits were a little longer, but lines only were about two or three parties deep. Periodically calls went out over the public address system for backup cashiers, which could have been a factor.
Sales member Raitiana Hilton said the store had been steady all day, with most shoppers interested in buying toys. But, things weren’t quite as frenetic as years past.
“It wasn’t as crazy as we thought it would be,” Hilton said.
The most popular items at the toy store this Black Friday were the Monster High dolls, Baby Alive dolls and Disney’s Sofia the First singing dolls. Most of them were sold out by 11 a.m.
Shopper Barbara Carter took advantage of special deals on Angry Birds toys and talking Furbys at Toys R Us at 5 p.m. Thanksgiving Day, where she waited in line with about 300 other people.
“I ended up getting pretty good deals,” she said.
Later, she returned to buy Doc McStuffins toys for her children, Tayvon and Audrey. Carter said she wasn’t planning to go anywhere else, as her Christmas shopping is finished.
“Now I have to get my car fixed. That’s the remainder of my Christmas shopping,” she said.
Overall, Carter noted that not as many people came out this Black Friday.
“And the deals aren’t as good. I think it’s because everyone’s doing matching pricing,” she said.
Up to 140 million people plan to shop over the weekend, a slight decrease from the 147 million who planned to do so last year, a preliminary Thanksgiving weekend shopping survey by the National Retail Federation shows.
Meyer had only a few people stop by her garage sale Friday morning, but she said she was planning for them to come by after they finished shopping at the big-box stores such as Wal-Mart, Target and Best Buy. She advertises her sales on websites and places signs around the neighborhood.
“I try to have a little bit of everything so I can hit everybody,” Meyer said.
She’s not alone.
At the Fashion Show mall, new store concepts from Disney and Apple and new stores such as Urban Outfitters were driving traffic, said Janet LaFevre, senior marketing manager for the Grand Canal Shoppes and Fashion Show.
The first store to open at the mall on Thanksgiving was Forever 21 followed at 8 p.m. by Macy’s and Macy’s Men’s. LaFevre said there were lines at every entrance to Macy’s. Forty of the mall’s 250 stores opened at midnight, with a DJ from the Hard Rock Hotel playing music at 11 p.m.
LaFevre said she expects thousands of people to come through the mall over the holiday weekend.
Of all the brands, Microsoft had the largest presence at Fashion Show. The software company opened its first permanent store in Las Vegas there on Nov. 14 and also was selling its wares from a satellite kiosk in the mall. Microsoft signs dominated the center with ads for Xbox One that read “Come in and Play,” or “Windows — One Experience for everything in your life.”
Scott Gregory, assistant manager at Microsoft, said the store had been busy since 8 p.m. Thursday with “lots of people taking advantage of discounts.” He declined to talk about revenue expectations for the holidays.
At the Esplanade at Wynn Las Vegas, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Cartier, Oscar de la Renta, Vertu and Rolex were open Friday. But the crowds walking through the Strip’s high-end retail mall were spending their Friday morning window shopping instead of spending $2,790 on a Louis Vuitton Altair evening bag.
Las Vegas Review-Journal writer reporter Chris Sieroty contributed to this report. Contact reporter Laura Carroll at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-4588. Follow @lscvegas on Twitter.