Nightly News | November 25, 2011
WILLIAMS: Good evening.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: Sure hoping you had a happy Thanksgiving . And if you were among the millions shopping last night at midnight or shopping out there today, we hope you're now back home safely on this Black Friday night because it is rough out there, as you'll soon see tonight. For what's supposed to be a happy, family time of year, there's a lot or worry about there on both sides, consumers and retailers, and for both, really, the problem is paying their bills. So get to shoppers spending in a tight economy, they offer come-ons, and prices come down while the so-called 1 percent can maybe wait and do their shopping without such price concerns. And the rush to buy for less has led to violence. More on that in a moment. The promise of lower prices does strange things to people. Fifteen thousand people were waiting at the Mall of America for the opening at midnight. Ten thousand people lined up at Macy's Herald Square in New York . John Yang happens to be one of them tonight. He starts us off this evening. John, good evening.
JOHN YANG reporting: Good evening, Brian . Black Friday got started this year earlier than ever, at the stroke of midnight, and those extra hours drew some very big crowds. The minute Thanksgiving Day ended and Friday began...
Unidentified Woman #1: I'm just getting this.
YANG: ...so did the bargain hunting. Shoppers jammed stores before the sun was up. Across the country, many scenes bordered on chaos. But the day was largely incident free, except for scattered cases of violence.
Unidentified Woman #2: Oh, my God.
YANG: The draw? Deals like 42-inch flat screen televisions for under $200.
Unidentified Woman #3: For 199.
Unidentified Man #1: For 199.
Unidentified Man #2: If I can get it here for 199, it's worth waiting 20 hours.
YANG: According to analysts, the earlier opening hours appeared to attract customers younger than the tradition Black Friday shopper, a sign that teen fashion merchandisers had an especially good day. The next four weeks are a crucial time for retailers. According to the National Retail Federation , in 2010 , nearly 20 percent of retailers' sales for the entire year came in November and December. This year they project a 2.8 percent jump in holiday spending, about half of last year's increase.
Source: National Retail Federation
YANG: Analysts say today is likely to be the single biggest shopping day of the season.
Unidentified Man #3: You don't get this type of deals any other time but now.
YANG: Still, even deeper discounts are usually available later. Merchants use the hoopla of Black Friday to generate excitement and try to set a tone for the weeks ahead.
Unidentified Man #4: Woo!
Ms. PATTI FREEMAN EVANS (Forrester Research): The whole point is to get people into the store to do a lot of other shopping, and actually not just walk out with that one item.
Unidentified Man #5: I got -- hey, I'm got them. I got them. I got them. I got them.
YANG: For shoppers, it can be as much about the chase as the savings.
Mr. MARSHAL COHEN (NPD Group Chief Retail Analyst): There's a good chunk of consumers who are looking for really good bargains and the sport of shopping, the thrill of the treasure hunt.
Unidentified Man #6: Woo!
YANG: Big lines were reported at discount stores like Walmart and Target , and electronic stores like Best Buy seemed to be early Black Friday winners. This
year shoppers have a new tool: smartphones.
Unidentified Man #7: Well, it used to be, what, you camp out in front of the store. Now you got to camp out in front of your phone.
YANG: Taking comparison shopping to a whole new level.
Ms. EVANS: They're bringing their phones with them so they're researching on the web on their phone to actually get the right deals, the right price, the right purchase for them.
YANG: Next up Cyber Monday , the big online shopping day. Analysts expect online shopping to be more important than ever this year, up 17 percent from
last year. Brian: John Yang , the few, the proud, the brave at Macy's Herald Square tonight. John, thanks.