Decatur resident Shana White kept warm with a fleece blanket as she lounged on the pavement outside Kmart, which kicked off its Black Friday specials at 8 p.m. Thursday.
Dozens of eager shoppers, with folding chairs, jackets, snacks and sale circulars, formed a long line outside the store to await the start of the Christmas rush.
White, who witnessed shoppers fighting over bedsheets, pajamas, towels and toys during last year’s shopping frenzy, said she hopes the Kmart on Beltline Road Southwest will be calmer than other stores she has visited in the past.
“You try to outrun people to get what you want, especially at Wal-Mart,” White said. “It gets brutal there.”
The National Retail Federation reports 147 million Americans will leave their dirty Thanksgiving dishes in the sink to shop for Black Friday deals through Sunday, a decrease from the 152 million consumers who planned to do so in 2011.
Nancy Dennis, spokeswoman for the Alabama Retail Association, predicts holiday sales through December will increase 4 percent this year from the $8.8 billion spent statewide in 2011. Alabamians are expected to spend $350 million more this holiday season than in 2011 on taxed purchases.
The Black Friday shopping rush has been an annual tradition for Hillsboro resident Angie Hike’s family during the past 17 years.
Hike, who began preparing for Black Friday in August, arrived at Wal-Mart three hours early so she could scope out the store before sale items went up for grabs at 8 p.m.
“With four kids, you have to figure things out and budget to get everything they want for Christmas,” she said. “Black Friday is a blessing for people on a budget.”
Sisters Andrea Porter of Decatur and Yolande Stevens of Memphis created a Black Friday map on Thanksgiving so they could hit different stores offering holiday specials.
The siblings have weathered freezing temperatures and sleet on Black Friday in past years, and they came prepared with chairs, coats and coffee as they waited for Sears to open at 8 p.m.
“It’s about being together and having fun,” Porter said. “It’s about getting a good deal and having something to talk about the next day.”
Athens resident Wayne Brookover was the first shopper to form a line at 1 p.m. Thursday outside Sears Department Store in Decatur Mall.
Brookover said he has plans to visit Bridge Street Town Centre and Parkway Place Mall in Huntsville after he purchases a $300 Toshiba TV from Sears.
“It was a 70-degree day in November,” he said. “If it was freezing, I doubt I’d be out here.”
Decatur police cars lined the front of Wal-Mart on Thursday night as shoppers filled the store to await the start of Black Friday. Athens police also increased patrols.
Amanda Douglas of Trinity waited in line with her husband outside Target to save $100 on an Xbox 360 game system.
“If you get there early enough and get the deals, you save money, especially on electronics,” she said. “With us, we have six kids, so it always works if we can save a little money.”
But Decatur resident Steven Demastus, who stood in line for nine hours to buy a $288 50-inch TV and $88 24-inch TV from Kmart, wasn’t pleased with the experience.
“It was long, boring and I probably won’t do it again — until I need another TV,” he said. “It’s really not worth it.”
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