Black Friday: Record crowds expected (i.e. brace yourselves)
Black Friday shoppers beware: There's going to be a lot of competition out there.
Retailers nationwide expect about 152 million people to stream through their doors before the holiday weekend is over. That's the highest estimate the National Retail Federation has seen in the roughly 10 years it's been polling potential holiday shoppers about their post-Thanksgiving-dinner plans, spokeswoman Kathy Grannis told The Times.
That could set the stage for another record as well, with Black Friday possibly the biggest shopping day of 2011. (Most people think Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year. But "thanks to a world full of procrastinators," the Saturday before Christmas often beats it out, she said.)
It's too soon to say whether this projected rush indicates an uptick in the economy, or consumers' flat-out need for a sale, Grannis said.
"The deals are very hard to pass up," she said. "At a time when every penny matters, and consumers are diligently sticking to budgets, Black Friday weekend is the opportunity for people to get all their holiday shopping done -- or put a huge dent in it."
Not everyone agrees with this assessment. Accenture, a global management consulting company, says its survey suggests the important of Black Friday is waning because of the rise of smart phones and other consumer-friendly devices that can be used for shopping. That could mean fewer folks slapping down the plastic on Black Friday.
Only time will tell who's right.
But this much is certain: "There is an extreme competition these days when it comes to retailers and holiday sales," Grannis said.
-- Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch
Photo: Shoppers, including one who appears to be in her pajamas, line up in the electronics department at Target in Burbank shortly after 4 a.m. on Black Friday 2010. Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times