The Super Bowl of shopping kicked off Friday morning with nearly 200 people waiting in near-freezing temperatures for the the doors of Best Buy to open in southwest Las Vegas on Black Friday.
“I’m here hopefully for a graphics card and computer parts,” 18-year-old Alex Vilorenu said as he stood near the end of a line that snaked all the way around the corner of the store at 6950 Arroyo Crossing Parkway at 4:40 a.m.
Carter Hope, 17, had him beat.
Hope showed up at the store some 10 hours earlier, “right after Thanksgiving dinner,” he said, to earn a spot near the front of the line in a relentless mission to try to snag a Playstation 5 and Xbox. He would soon learn, however, that despite the long wait, the store didn’t have what he was after. So Hope was trying to make the best of a tough situation with so many hours in sub 40-degree weather already under his belt.
“I’ll still probably go grab some Christmas gifts,” a dejected Hope said as he huddled in the cold, assessing his next moves in the never-ending battle for bargains.
Demont Oglesby, also known as “Supreme,” was just behind him, hunting for deals on camera equipment for podcasts.
“They were $800,” Oglesby said. “I’m hoping to save $400 to $600 on it maybe.”
The victories and defeats were all a part of the contest of Black Friday bargain hunting, shoppers said. There are ups and downs, successes and failures. A chance at greatness in the form of saving hundreds on Christmas presents.
At Best Buy, Jesse Barrera was a winner because he scored some Beats earbuds and a Ninja blender.
“They are like half off,” Barrera said.
‘Nice and organized’
Just down the road, at Walmart on Arroyo Crossing, Cesar Gomez was triumphant because he showed up to Walmart at about 4:30 a.m. Friday with his kids in mind.
Power Wheels, Barbie dolls and a Spider-Man were all in his cart as he emerged from the store at 7200 Arroyo Crossing Parkway. Gomez said he’d just put a huge dent in his Christmas shopping for his 2-year-old and 4-year-old.
“Nice and organized. No chaos,” Gomez said. “I’d have to say I (saved) about a good $300.”
Across town in northwest Las Vegas, the line outside Target at 6480 Sky Pointe Drive snaked around the building as the sun crept over the horizon just before 7 a.m.
Deoine Cox and his 16-year-old son J.J. waited at the front of the line before doors opened. J.J. had saved up money to buy a Playstation 5 and was hoping the store would have them. Five minutes later, he’d walk out empty-handed.
Target was only selling them online, he said. Next stop: Sam’s Club.
“That’s what Black Friday’s all about, right?” said Deione Cox, 62.
Madison Vedor, 23, and Sam Zahn, 24, got what they came for: a 55-inch Samsung TV. The couple arrived at 6:45 a.m. thinking the store opened at 8 a.m., but they were in and out within a half-hour. Other customers helped the first-time Black Friday shoppers to load the TV into their shopping cart.
“It was very nice. Not what I expected,” Vedor said.
In Downtown Summerlin, Austin, Texas residents Aaron Rochlen and his daughter Bella waited outside the Apple store for his wife, Paula Requeijo, to finish buying an iPhone 13 and a pair of AirPods.
Requeijo is the “power shopper” in the family, Rochlen said, though when asked about their next stop, he deferred to the one calling the shots.
“I want to go to Lush really badly because I love their bath bombs so much,” said 12-year-old Bella, who added she was only “kind of” in charge on Friday morning, along with her mom. Her favorite bath bomb? “Probably the dragon’s egg. I like it a lot.”
Friends Jasmin Frazier and Joi Sparrow each carried a pair of Bath and Body Works bags filled with candles and car scents. They noticed the leisurely atmosphere: shoppers strolling down the outdoor mall’s sidewalks, nobody seemingly in a hurry. It was different than pre-pandemic Black Friday vibes, they said.
Sparrow, 31, shopped online at home last year because she was concerned about catching COVID-19. The Las Vegas resident still prefers outdoor spaces over indoor shopping.
“This is a really good size, but it’s also very telling that I’m clearly not the only person in Nevada who feels the way I feel because some people still aren’t out here yet,” she said.
1.6M Nevadans likely to shop over holiday weekend
Nearly 2 million more people are expected to shop this year over the five-day Thanksgiving weekend that includes Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday than the same period last year. The National Retail Federation said an estimated 158.3 million consumers will be shopping Thanksgiving weekend, up from 156.6 million shoppers in 2020.
Meanwhile, the Retail Association of Nevada said an estimated 1.6 million Nevadans will be shopping over the Thanksgiving weekend.
Overall, the National Retail Federation anticipates record-breaking retail sales with shoppers spending between $843.4 billion and $859 billion during November and December, a roughly 8.5 percent to 10.5 percent increase over 2020.
“The outlook for the holiday season looks very bright,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said in news release. “The unusual and beneficial position we find ourselves in is that households have increased spending vigorously throughout most of 2021 and remain with plenty of holiday purchasing power.”
Shoppers were out in full force at Las Vegas North Premium Outlets, near the Arts District. By 2:30 p.m. the center’s parking structures were full and drivers were being directed by staff to park at World Market Center.
Vicki Rousseau, area director of marketing and business development for the North and South Premium Outlets, said it’s been “mind blowing.”
“It’s just a sea of people,” she said. “I would say that this is one of the busiest Black Fridays that I’ve seen. It just seems like there’s a pent-up demand for people to go shopping again.”
It was hard to find a visitor without a shopping bag — one carried eight large bags while another had five pink shopping bags, all from handbag label Kate Spade. Rousseau said she spotted many visitors purchasing a suitcase only to fill it with their newly purchased goods.
Meanwhile, popular brands such as Nike, Kate Spade and The North Face had lines wrapping around their stores. Rousseau said the outlets opened its doors at 6 a.m. but lines started forming outside of shops like Lululemon, Coach and Tory Burch by 5 a.m., prompting those retailers to open early to help clear the line.
“This is exceeding my expectations for what I had anticipated happening,” she said. “You hear so much about supply chain and delivery delays that I think people want to make sure they have their gifts for the holiday season because we’re less than a month out from Christmas.”
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Cyber Monday coming up
Black Friday may be the Super Bowl of shopping but there’s still other shopping events such as Cyber Monday.
The event offers extensive discounts from retailers and online-only brands.
Research firm Forrester anticipates 25 percent of U.S. online consumers to spend more this holiday season compared with 2020 and another 40 percent are expected to spend the same amount as last year.