It’s official: Christmas shopping season begins

Aerial photo showing the congested parking at Dover Mall Friday morning. (Special To The Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

DOVER — The holiday spirit took over Dover as Black Friday shoppers and deal seekers jammed Route 13 from the Target department store in south Dover all the way to the Walmart in Cheswold.

In between, parking lots were filled throughout the city as people shook off their post-Thanksgiving feasts to get a head start on the next season in line — Christmas.

As usual, the Dover Mall appeared to be the epicenter of Black Friday in the state capital.

Though the temperature outside the mall was around 50 degrees, Christmas music filled the air inside as children waited their turns to have pictures taken with Santa Claus and shoppers took aim on the best deals they could find, whether it be at anchor stores Sears, JC Penney’s, Macy’s, Boscov’s or any of the other shopping spots in between.

The Dover Mall was open from 6 p.m. until 1 a.m. on Thanksgiving night before it opened its doors from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m. on Friday.

“It was very slow until about 8:30 (in the morning Friday) and then it’s been picking up since then,” said Vi Moore, a salesperson at the Edible Birdhouses kiosk located near Victoria’s Secret. “It’s not been crazy yet — I’m still waiting on the crazy — but sometimes you have to wait until lunch for people’s energy to set in.”

Val Jones, an employee at Bath & Body Works, was wearing a reindeer-eared headband and telling people of the great deals that were available inside her store.

A family leaves Macy’s after taking advantage of Friday’s sale prices. (Special To The Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

“People have been very good so far, but now we’re up to almost a 30-minute wait (to check out),” Ms. Jones said, at around noon Friday. “I did hear one kid screaming like they were being tortured earlier in the day, but thankfully (the parents) fixed that.

“I just want one of those huge rideable stuffed animals that people can rent and shop on. Those look like a lot of fun.”

While Black Friday shopping is fun to many people, it is also vital for merchandisers in order to reach their sales goals for the year.

According to the National Retail Federation, retail sales — minus car, gasoline and restaurant purchases — in November and December are expected to reach $682 billion nationally, up 4 percent from last year.

Kelli Hollinger, a professor at Texas A&M, said that physically shopping inside a store still has its benefits over sitting at a computer at home and shopping online.

She wrote that only about 10 percent of holiday purchases will be made only this season.

“The main asset of a physical store in a digital world is human staffing,” Ms. Hollinger said. “Even if a shopper doesn’t want help, a smile acknowledging his or her presence encourages connection.”

Perhaps Michael Christensen, who was visiting the Dover-area from Toronto, Canada, had the best idea while spending some time at the Dover Mall on Friday.

He was standing and watching over his children as they rode a Merry-go-round in the mall.

“I don’t have any fears about shopping on Black Friday,” he said. “It hasn’t been too crowded it seems and parking wasn’t too bad.

“I’m just here mostly supporting my wife, who is the one that’s doing the real shopping while I’m watching over the kids.”

Some other stores might have gotten a little more intense on Friday, as cars also filled the parking lots outside of the Best Buy and Verizon stores in Dover.

Shoppers seem to love searching for the latest electronic gadgets this time of year.

Jamaal Truitt, from Salisbury, Maryland, was on the lookout for the perfect 52-inch flat screen television at Best Buy.

“This actually isn’t too bad,” Mr. Truitt said. “I think now most of those crazy Black Friday shoppers that you see on TV fighting over stuff actually go out and hit the stores on Thanksgiving night.

“I’m just enjoying spending the day with my family and this really hasn’t been a bad experience at all.”

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