JACKSONVILLE, Fla – More than 166 million people plan to shop between Friday and Cyber Monday which is almost 8 million more than last year, according to the National Retail Federation.
Black Friday will be the busiest day by far with nearly 115 million people planning to spend some money.
Activity at the St. Johns Town Center never slowed once the doors opened at stores at 6 a.m. Friday. Lines started forming as early as 5:30 a.m.
The longest line our News4JAX crew saw all morning was outside Lululemon.
“I was kind of expecting a long line, but we definitely woke up early just for that store,” said shopper Josslyn Piersall, who was waiting outside Lululemon.
The consensus among most shoppers was that Black Friday is a longtime tradition for them at this point. We did not meet any first-timers.
“It’s just really fun because you don’t ever do this except for once a year, and it’s kind of fun,” shopper Bella Williams said.
Despite the push toward online shopping, some said being there in person makes a difference.
“We want to try to find those good deals,” shopper Alex Tapley said. “I like shopping in person more because you get to actually feel and try on the clothes and stuff.”
And clothes are one of the hottest items on shopping lists this year, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation survey. They asked more than 7,500 people what the top gifts were on their lists:
- Clothes (55%)
- Gift cards (45%)
- Toys (37%)
- Books/music/movies and video games (33%)
- Food and candy (31%)
Shoppers are expected to spend $28.6 billion on gift cards alone. The top gift cards are for:
- Restaurants (27%)
- Department stores (26%)
- Bank-issued (25%)
The survey also asked about their shopping routines around this time of year. Most people said they have started shopping or at least got an idea of what they wanted to buy earlier this month.
In that same survey, here are the top reasons people say they shop on Black Friday:
- 59% of people say the deals are too good to pass up
- 27% say this is a tradition for them
- While 22% feel shopping on Black Friday is just something to do over the holiday weekend
There are more than 175 stores available at the Town Center, which will remain open until 9 a.m. Friday.
It’s a strong day for smaller locally-owned businesses like Jones and Rose, a store Christie Rose Bird established three years ago that sells natural bath and body fragrances and skin moisturizers.
“We really need the community to come out and support. It really gives a small business an opportunity to have a spike in their sales and it makes a difference with that bottom line,” Jones Bird said.