The nation’s shoppers took advantage of deals on toys and TVs with some renewed vigor in stores and online on Black Friday after a year of concentrating their spending on basic necessities.
Though the first numbers won’t be available until today, early reports indicated bigger crowds than last year, with people buying more and even throwing in some items for themselves.
It was an encouraging sign for retailers, which have suffered through a year of sales declines, and perhaps also for the broader economy, which could use a kickstart from consumer spending.
Worries about jobs clearly were on shoppers’ minds. Most people buying for themselves were picking up practical things that were deeply discounted such as pillows, pajamas and coffee makers, according to stores and analysts.
“With the layoff there have been a few cutbacks, but with the great sales they’re offering this year, I think it’s, overall, going to be a great Christmas for my two granddaughters,” said Ernest Bell of Marietta, Ga., who was laid off in April from his job as an information technology support representative and was at the local Walmart on Friday.
Online, Walmart.com, Amazon.com and other online retailers also grabbed for a piece of the action, pushing deals on Thursday and even earlier in the week. Several large retailers, including Walmart and many Old Navy locations, even opened on Thanksgiving.
Those stores now have to figure out how to keep people coming back through Dec. 25.
Stores were encouraged that shoppers appeared to be a little freer with their spending. Best Buy, Sears Holdings Corp. and Mall of America, as well as mall operators Taubman Centers and Simon Property Group, offered signs people were buying more than last year.