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REFILE-UPDATE 3-Black Friday draws early shoppers, but real frenzy is online

REFILE-UPDATE 3-Black Friday draws early shoppers, but real frenzy is online
From Reuters - November 24, 2017

CHICAGO/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Turnout at U.S. retailers was relatively subdued on Black Friday, with many shoppers flocking to stores to eye items in person and enjoy the festive atmosphere while waiting to do their actual bargain hunting online.

There were few signs of the over-the-top frenzy that had been a hallmark of the start to the U.S. shopping season in years past, and some stores appeared to be getting creative with gimmicks beyond heavy discounts to lure shoppers through their doors.

The day after Thanksgiving is traditionally when retailers offer doorbuster deals attracting bargain hunters. Many department and big-box stores have said they will compete fiercely on price this quarter while keeping inventory lean.

Tricia Welch, 36, a customer service executive at a bank, stood in line for about an hour before getting into a Target Corp store in Manhattan.

There are definitely more discounts available through the year now than say four to five years ago ... we only buy electronics or appliances on Black Friday.

Miguel Flores, 43, an overnight security guard, visited the store after his shift ended.

I mostly shop online but decided to drop in because I havent been to a store in a long time, Flores said. I bought some video games for my nephew a few days ago. The deals were pretty good then, too. In fact I was just looking at some of them today and the deals are similar.

Tenesha Robertson, 43, a loader at UPS, exited Macys in Jersey Citys Newport Centre Mall with her mother, daughter and several large bags in tow. They were headed to drop shopping items off at Robertsons car before buying more at the mall.

We go to Macys every year, she said. The discounts are about the same, but we like to come just to be here for the family time.

But online demand may help make up for lackluster store traffic, and even the subdued in-store activity this year marked an improvement over recent years.

Macys Inc Chief Executive Jeff Gennette told CNBC on Friday that the retailer was better off this year than last, had robust online demand and was in a good place for holiday promotions, sending the retailers shares up more than 4 percent in early trading.

JC Penney Co climbed 1.8 percent, while Target Corp and Wal-Mart Stores Inc edged higher.

The period between the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday and Christmas can make or a break a retailer, accounting for as much as 40 percent of total revenue for the year.

The turnout this morning has been relatively slow but it is still the best we have seen in three years. We expect it to pick up as the day progresses, said Burt Flickinger, managing director, Strategic Resources Group. He cited improving consumer confidence, a strong job market, and healthy housing prices.

More people picked up deals online and the traditional rush was split by stores opening the night before. Godiva gave out free chocolates, Sephora offered face masks and perfumes and dancers entertained Bergdorf Goodman shoppers, according to the New York Post.

The deepest Black Friday discounts included more than $200 off some BestBuy TVs, all bras across Victorias Secret Pink stores sold for $25, half-price video games at Target, and $50 off PlayStation 4 Pro gaming consoles at Walmart.

NOT WHAT IT USED TO BE

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