New York, NY, United States (4E) – A key holiday shopping season kicks off in the U.S. as excited shoppers throughout the country join the Black Friday bargain rush amid a weak economy.
Black Friday is the year’s busiest shopping day marking the Thanksgiving weekend as well as the start of the holiday shopping season.
Walmart, the world’s biggest retailer, opened its gates for bargain hunters on Thanksgiving night. Around 11,000 shoppers trooped to Macy’s flagship store in New York when it opened at midnight.
An estimated 147 million people would go to shopping stores until Sunday, in addition to unknown number of people shopping online.
Many shops have began serving frenzied customers as early as Thursday night.
Big-box retailer Target opened it doors three hours before midnight local time, which is earlier compared to last year. Meanwhile, Sears even opened its doors an hour earlier at 8pm.
Retail sales for the holiday shopping period will likely grow 4.1 per cent this year, which is lower than the 5.6 per cent gain in 2012 according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). The estimated 147 million shoppers in Thanksgiving weekend this year is lower than the 152 million last year, said the NRF.
The rising popularity of online shopping has posed a challenge to the traditional brick-and-mortar shopping. Data tracker comScore estimates that online purchases will grow 15-18 per cent this year.