POP! BLACK FRIDAY: Stores open earlier, more customers shopping online

By Taylor Riley

Here they come … Stampede!

No, it’s not a herd of elephants. It’s a herd of shoppers.

It is that time of year again: Black Friday. It’s time to get that North Face Denali jacket everyone’s been eyeing for months, or the newest “Call of Duty” game before anyone else does, at next-to-nothing prices.

From BestBuy to  Rite-Aid, it seems like every store is jumping on the annual after-Thanksgiving sale bandwagon.

This Black Friday, you may want to give it the “old college try” and brew a cup of coffee to pull an all-nighter because stores are opening even earlier this year.

Black Friday madness is expected to begin at 3 a.m. at most stores, and stores like Target are piloting a new concept this holiday. They will open stores at midnight and let 30 people in every 30 seconds to reduce the number of broken bones and bruised eyes, according to Indystar.com.

Stores such as Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic, Macy’s and Kohl’s are reportedly opening their doors at midnight, as well.

Some UK students, like Trent Shimizu, a UK telecommunications major who worked last Black Friday at Dick’s Sporting Goods, said he knows exactly how edgy customers get with huge sales at major retailers.

“I was at the register the whole time with miles of people in line all day,” Shimizu said. “There were people with thousands of dollars in transactions, and if anything goes wrong, it’s all your fault.”

With the country slowly climbing out of the recession, holiday spending is expected to rise 2.8 percent to $468 billion this season, with Black Friday and Thanksgiving shopping projected to gain 10 percent of the total holiday sales, according to Indystar.com.

“I’m expecting crazy shoppers and lots of catfights,” said UK sophomore Meredith Brown, who will be working this year in her first Black Friday ever at Fayette Mall.

Unruly shoppers have caused a great deal of consumers to opt to stay in, and this holiday shopping season online sales are expected to grow by 15 percent, according to Indystar.com.

“It’s a little too early for my taste,” Tyler Pittenger, an Integrated Strategic Communications senior, said about the early store openings.

In years past, electronic gifts have been on every household wish list, and this Black Friday is no different with nearly 25 percent of shoppers saying they will buy from this category, pcmag.com said.

Smart phones, e-book tablets and laptops will be among the hottest ticket items the day after Thanksgiving this year with stores like Amazon knocking down the price of their Kindle to $79, according to pcmag.com.

Walmart, one of today’s biggest competitors for deals, announced that their electronic deals will start at midnight on Black Friday, which includes $100 off an Xbox360.

Even the app world is wanting to help shoppers get their Black Friday game plan together.

According to pcmag.com, the iPhone app “SaleLocator” can now be downloaded to find the biggest deals in more than 20 categories, and the GPS locations on where to find the sales in stores.