Midnight openings ease Black Friday rush at mall

10:36 AM, Nov 29, 2013   |    comments
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Brandon, Florida -- While workers may not love the long hours, managers and customers say early Black Friday openings have curbed some of the chaos of past years.

The Roberts family left their house in Wauchula at 9 o'clock Thanksgiving night.

Fueled by bargains and caffeinated beverages, almost 12 hours later -- around sunrise Friday -- they were still going strong.

A borrowed stroller had bulging bags from a half-dozen different stores slung over it.

It's the same way this group of family and friends has done holiday shopping for eight straight years.

"It's just kind of become a family tradition. We just have a lot of fun doing it," organizer Julia Roberts said.

"We never fight over TVs or anything crazy like that. We just come out and have a good time and enjoy each other's company.

"It's like a celebration and it's definitely a tradition we're going to keep up."

More than 50 stores at the Westfield Brandon mall opened at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving night, the shopping center's marketing director said.

Nearly all the rest of the stores started selling at midnight. New store Gift-ology saw a more or less steady stream all through the overnight hours.

Opening the mall at midnight had an unexpected advantage in the groggy eyes of Gift-ology's store manager, Melissa Winter.

"It really took the crowd that we would normally have from like 8 [a.m.] to noon and spreads it out from midnight until noon -- gives them 12 hours to shop," Winter said.

The change created "more of a relaxed shopping environment, I think, for the customers," she said.

There's a reason this bargain-packed Black Friday weekend is so big.

You haven't had this short a shopping season between Thanksgiving and Christmas since 2002.

And many retail stores plan to pack more than 20 percent of their whole year's sales into just that one-month span.

Grayson Kamm, 10 News

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