Black Friday sales were still going strong this year, with a bit of a twist: some major retailers, including Walmart, Target, and Macy’s, actually opened on Thanksgiving itself, allowing shoppers to jump-start their holiday shopping. At Macy’s flagship Herald Square location in New York City, an estimated 15,000 shoppers showed up at 6 PM on Thanksgiving to start the holiday frenzy.
Target spokeswoman Kate Decker reported that the chain saw record sales online by giving access to Black Friday deals the day before on their website. According to Decker, they sold an iPad every second throughout the day on Thanksgiving. Other best sellers included gaming consoles, movies, TVs, and, surprisingly, a giant teddy bear that sold out within minutes at some stores.
Walmart’s top-selling products were similar–movies, toys, TVs, and gaming systems being among the most popular. They also made bank on NordicTrack treadmills, Toshiba Satellite laptops, and Lego Disney Princess toys.
Macy’s, still reeling from a disappointing third quarter performance, was encouraged by its Black Friday crowds, according to CEO Terry Lundgren. About 15,000 people visited Macy’s on Thanksgiving evening to get early Black Friday deals on items like apparel, kitchen appliances, and luggage.
There were some non-shopping events drawing crows as well. Given the current political turmoil in both the US and abroad, many activist groups used the energy of Black Friday to spotlight current issues including the death of a black teenager in Chicago at the hands of a white cop last year and the fight to raise the minimum wage for Walmart workers, which was said to include 1,400 people nationwide.
In addition to deals, bad behavior continued to be a hallmark of Black Friday, with at least two fist fights reported in Kentucky alone at separate shopping malls–one in Louisville and one in Florence, according to the New York Daily News. Police broke up both events, but not before they were caught on film and shared on social media.
In terms of consumption, this Black Friday looks to be as successful as previous ones, if not more so. The National Retail Federation expected about 30 million people to shop on Thanksgiving, followed by 99.7 million on Black Friday. Sales for November and December are expected to rise 3.7% to $630.5 billion.
Online sales soared as well, with a 26% increase on Thanksgiving as compared to the same day last year. Mobile devices accounted for 40% of online sales, according to IBM Watson Trend, which tracks online spending.