Beaumont Black Friday powered by tradition, not deals


Every year, even during a pandemic, shoppers wake up early to the tradition and thrill of finding a bargain in the early hours of Black Friday.

While the lines seem to get shorter every year, whether it’s due to online shopping or, this year, supply shortages, Beaumont’s opportunistic shoppers are no exception.

Around 4:30 a.m. on Friday, stores with the first door-to-door offerings like Walmart and Academy Sports + Outdoors were already having sidewalk queues with people waiting for the start of the hour to rush out.

At the Academy, the big draw for the 50+ shoppers lined up at the opening appeared to be deals on big-ticket items like handguns, but some shoppers were also there for clothing sales.

Tammy Lemons and Naomi Journeay were starting what was going to be a full morning of bargain hunting at the Academy and had already figured out which sections they were going to hit first.

“I like to think of it like the shopping Olympics,” Journeyay said.

The couple said they mostly braved the early morning cold for tradition and the thrill of the hunt, especially since most of the big discounts they expected on Black Friday seemed to disappear.

Lemons said she had already started Christmas shopping earlier in the year and found herself buying more online since the start of the pandemic.

“I haven’t really done any online shopping until this year, but I still love going to stores in person,” she said.

Whether it’s because of online shopping trends or out of caution to avoid a bare Christmas tree, most consumers don’t wait for Black Friday deals to start checking their listings.

More than half of U.S. shoppers said they plan to start their holiday shopping before Thanksgiving this year, and about 75% of those early risers have tried to get freebies by October or even earlier, according to a survey by the business analysis firm The NPD Group.

Retail experts predict that holiday shoppers will spend more this season, in part due to the sheer increase in the cost of most consumer goods, but also due to the growing consumer confidence guaranteed by the increased vaccination rates.

Business services firm Deloitte predicted retail sales would grow 7-9% from last year, hitting $ 1.28 trillion to $ 1.3 trillion from November through January.

Up to $ 218 billion of that could come from e-commerce, which is expected to grow 11% to 15% this year.

More retailers have decided to limit their store hours during the Thanksgiving holiday, including Target.

The Beaumont Target didn’t open until 7 a.m. on Friday morning, but that hasn’t stopped shoppers from showing up almost an hour earlier in hopes of adding it as a quick stop in their busy morning.

Sean Bhatti was one of those shoppers lining the front door before the store opened, but he didn’t necessarily have a plan of action yet.

He said he didn’t normally participate in the Black Friday rush, but he hoped this special gift would grab his attention.

“My daughters are getting older now and I was trying to get something different that they might like,” Bhatti said.

He wasn’t the only one sailing on Friday morning, as some of the shoppers who were waiting for Best Buy to open left empty-handed minutes later.

While some economic statistics and COVID-19 cases point to a shift towards what might be “normal” now, Bhatti said he still sees something different from what he expected on Friday morning.

“I think the pandemic still has a lot of people who don’t go out, whether they’re just used to staying home now or because they might not be working,” Bhatti said. “Not everyone has the money right now to put hundreds of dollars on a laptop that will probably be the same price a year from now.”

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