One self-proclaimed “over caffeinated” shopper said she had been out and about since early in the morning looking for Christmas presents for family and friends.
“I’m just trying to keep our money in the county,” said Debbie Todd, a local school teacher before beginning her Christmas gift hunt at Radio Shack.
According to Todd, her holiday shopping budget is cut this year and she plans to buy mainly for relatives and close friends.
“I’ll be buying gifts for a couple people at work,” Linda Lammonds, a J.C. Penney shopper said. “Basically for people I’m close to and think a lot of.”
Overall, shoppers are saying they have been feeling the pressure of the recession bearing down on their wallets and on their holiday shopping budgets but are still managing to get out and look for big ticket items like laptops and iPods.
“We are going to be scrimping this year,” Holli Craven said. She was shopping with her husband, Ken. “But this can be a good thing for kids. It’ll help teach them the value of a dollar since a lot of kids look for instant gratification.”
According to the Cravens, their daughter has been out since 3 a.m. braving the chilly temperatures outside Wal-mart for a laptop.
“We slept in,” Ken Craven said. “And we missed all the good stuff at Wal-mart.”
Most stores advertise heavily around Thanksgiving for steeply discounted items like laptops, clothing and other assorted items.
“You’d be surprised at how many towels and pillows we sell,” said Terry Greene, store manager of J.C. Penney.
Other shoppers were interested in getting a jump-start on the general gift giving for not only families but for themselves too. Some planned trips in advance to go shopping with friends.
“We’ve been coming out on Black Friday for about three years,” said Shelia Bullard, a customer shopping at Belk in Rockingham.
Bullard who was shopping with her friend Stephanie Locklear said it has become a bit of a tradition to go shopping the day after Thanksgiving and personally enjoy staying close to home because it’s less crowded than going to Fayetteville or Southern Pines.
Members of the Fore family also decided to brave the crowds as well and buy gifts mainly for the, “family and youngins.”
“Money is going to be a little tighter this year,” Larry Fore said. “We’ll be getting small items and the necessities.”
Black Friday has become famous for its early morning sales which have advanced from sunrise sales to 4 a.m. sales to events where people line up at 10 p.m. the night before.
According to some store employees, it has become just as common to see people start standing in line at 2 a.m. as it is to see them walk through the doors at 10 a.m.
“I was quite surprised this morning when I pulled up in the parking lot,” Mary Covington, a sales associate at Belk said.
According to Covington, nearly 200 early morning shoppers converged on Belk to receive a Belk gift card and rush inside to get a head-start on their Christmas shopping.
Greene said that J.C. Penney was scheduled to open their doors at 4 a.m. and by 3:45 a.m. the store saw close 150 people waiting in line.
“Today (Black Friday) was much better than expected,” Greene said. “It’s better than last year.”
Many stores, like J.C. Penney, were giving away incentives like snow globes and gift cards at the door to customers to increase customer traffic, according to Greene who went on to explain they have been gifting customers with the snow globes for a few years to attract and thank shoppers for their support.
“The people of Richmond County and surrounding counties have been greatly supportive this year,” Greene said. “I’d really like to thank them for that.”
With the holiday season officially in motion, retailers across the country are bracing themselves for busier days and longer hours to accommodate the customer traffic.
“This is definitely the biggest shopping day of the year,” Greene said. “Prices are the best bar none.”
Throughout the season, many businesses are setting special hours and will continue to provide deals to budget conscious shoppers, according to Greene.
Staff writer Bryan Stewart can be reached at 997-3111 ext. 15 or by e-mail at email@example.com.