MISSOULA – The busiest shopping day of the year is here as thousands of customers are hitting the stores for Black Friday deals across the nation.
Kohl’s, Target and Best Buy are just some of the many giants that Western Montana consumers crowded for Christmas gifts for others. Some even snuck in a few gifts for themselves.
Toys, technology and clothing are just some of the many items on sale this Black Friday.
Thousands packed Missoula in the early hours of the morning to snag the best deals, with many traveling from out of town.
Butte resident Shari Widhalm said her family makes it a tradition to shop in Missoula.
“It’s the closest, probably, place to go other than Bozeman. We usually just come this way every year,” Widhalm said.
Black Friday has crept into the surrounding days in recent years, making it a five-day shopping extravaganza. And with a booming economy, The National Retail Federation estimates consumers will spend about an average of $1,007 this holiday, in an increase from last year.
Bella Sidoruk said she was looking for phone cases this year.
“Black Friday’s been great so far,everything’s like 40 percent off. I love it. We’ve been to a bunch of stores already and everything has just been really really cheap,” Bella said.
Maddie Sidoruk said she likes how affordable things are on Black Friday
“I think it was fun because it’s more like, instead of just being like ‘well that’s really expensive we can’t get that,’ everything’s a bit more, not as expensive,” Maddie said.
Many people stay away from Black Friday shopping to avoid long lines, but with the high demand of the day, businesses bring in additional manpower to mitigate crowded stores.
Widhalm said the crowds were pretty relaxed.
“Yeah it’s been pretty calm and relaxed today, there’s not been a lot of pushin’ or shovin’ or cranky people, so it’s been a fun experience,” Widhalm said.
It’s not just adults pulling out their wallets this year. 43 percent of young adults have reportedly told retail experts that they are planning to spend more this holiday season.
University of Montana student Jack Hall said he was going to shop at a few different stores.
“Looking for presents for my family. Looking for a PS4, but they were already sold out,” Hall said.
Long lines and busy stores will be the trend for the next few days. Shopping is on the minds of many with Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday just around the corner.
Shopper are also spending big money on gift cards this year. Experts say $29.9 billion will be spent on gift cards, which is up from last year by about $2 billion.
Holiday shopping comes with late nights and early mornings, especially on black Friday.
People need their caffeine fix to stay productive during this time of year. This year, Black Friday falls on National Espresso Day and plenty of coffee shops had deals to match the special seasonal flavors.
Barista Jessica Marallo says the energy is high and people seem excited for the holidays.
“I actually really like working the holidays,” Marallo said. “People are in a good mood, they’re upbeat. They’re ready to like get out and get some stuff done. So I really like it.”
— story by Katie Miller – MTN News