While there are no major malls in sight, plenty of Pettis County shoppers braved the cold and long lines hoping to find Black Friday deals.
The holiday shopping season began early for some local retailers such as Kohl’s and Walmart, which started their Black Friday deals at 6 p.m. Thanksgiving Day, and JCPenney, which started even earlier at 3 p.m. Thursday. The parking lots were packed Thursday evening at those stores, but some shoppers waited until other stores opened at the traditional 6 a.m. Friday.
Jenny Gilmore, Marila Johnson and Cody Johnson drove from Warsaw to shop at Menard’s in Sedalia. The trio got to the store just before 3 a.m., but stayed warm in the car before getting the first spot in line around 5 a.m.
“We’re helping our aunt and uncle, they wanted an air mattress that’s on sale so we volunteered to come out here,” Marila said minutes before Menard’s opened its doors. “We love helping our family.”
Marila said this wasn’t their first time participating in Black Friday, and although they were on a mission to find an air mattress, she said they’d try to find a few deals for themselves too.
According to a survey conducted for the National Retail Federation, 59 percent of Americans — an estimated 137.4 million people — were planning to or considering shopping during Thanksgiving weekend. That includes both in-store and online shopping, and is up just slightly from 58.7 percent in 2015.
The survey states that Black Friday is expected to remain the busiest day of the holiday weekend, with Millennials making up most of the shoppers.
Taylor Blakemore, a cashier and service desk member, was one of several Menard’s employees working the early Black Friday shift. She said this was her fourth or fifth year helping open the store for Black Friday.
“We get here at 5:15 a.m., about an hour early to make sure everything’s set and ready,” she said once the majority of the customer line had made its way inside. “We do an overlook of the store to make sure we know where things are. I got here around 5 and the line was almost to our driveway to get to the yard. People got here early, that’s for sure.”
Several Menard’s employees mentioned the store seemed much busier than last year. It took nine minutes from the time the doors opened at exactly 6 a.m. to when the last of the customers in line made it in the door, as other customers continued to trickle in.
Lowe’s also opened at 6 a.m. in Sedalia and had a fairly full parking lot. Retailers such as Kohl’s, Walmart and JCPenney that opened Thursday had just a few shoppers early Friday morning.
According to the Associated Press, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said in addition to Black Friday favorites like televisions and toys, shoppers were looking for drones, virtual reality products and hoverboards. Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren told AP that clothing sales have been good, with sportswear, dresses and even social occasion fashions doing well. But he’s hoping for some cold weather to help fuel more sales of winter items.
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-530-0138 or on Twitter @NicoleRCooke.