Nov 25 Faith Ruggieri, standing in the damp and
chilly night air outside a Walmart in Providence, Rhode
Island on Black Friday, represented a hopeful sign for
traditional retailers squeezed by online rivals such as
The mother of two hoped to buy Pyrex dishes for her 20-year
old daughter, who is about to move into her first apartment.
Sure, she says, she could have bought online. But
brick-and-mortar retailers offer instant gratification, making
it worth her while to turn out at 1 a.m. along with hundreds of
other shoppers to look for bargains.
Still, the store was not overwhelmed after the doors opened
- a scene replicated across the country on what used to be the
biggest shopping day of the year.
Tracy Watkins, a Bed, Bath and Beyond store manager
at the Chicago Ridge Mall, said "nobody was busting down the
doors at 6 a.m." as the temperature lurked below freezing.
The popularity of Black Friday has been on the wane over the
past couple of years as more stores open earlier - even on
Thanksgiving - and online retailers offer Black Friday-type
"It used to be very busy but for the past two years the
mornings are not very crazy," said Gina Reynolds, a 39-year old
housewife, shopping at a Macy's store in the Water Tower
Place Mall in Chicago.
Crowds were also relatively thin at other stores in the
mall, including J.C. Penney and Abercrombie & Fitch
The holiday shopping season, which traditionally and
unofficially begins on the day after Thanksgiving, can account
for about as much as 40 percent of retailers' annual sales.
The National Retail Federation, which has been overly
optimistic with projections in the past, has said it expects
sales this holiday season to increase by 3.6 percent to about
$656 billion, mainly due to rise in online shopping.
(Additional reporting by Svea Herbst Bayliss in Providence;
Renita Young and Nandita Bose in Chicago, and Siddharth Cavale
in Bangalore; Editing by Ted Kerr)