Busy shopping day begins to slow down

Black Friday began this morning as Busy Friday,but by late afternoon crowds had thinned and lines were leaner.


By noon at Sears, store associates received an announcement to remove signs regarding all door buster items. Many of the door buster items sold out this morning, such as Hannah Montana cameras, karaoke machines, several television models, camcorders and iPod docking stations.

Customers are still shopping but the crowds have thinned out.

Earlier, the Augusta Mall parking lot was packed. Cars were parked on the grass along the street that goes around the mall at 10:15 a.m. and shoppers are circling the parking lot searching for an open parking spot.

Tammie Strickland of Metter, Ga., drove 70 miles to shop at Augusta Mall, leaving home at 6:30 a.m. She doesn't like online shopping and prefers to shop in person.

She said that shopping on Black Friday is a family tradition. Her first stop was Dick's Sporting Goods to find a gift for her husband, an avid hunter.

"We hope to catch some sales. It's a lot of fun. I love shopping. It's a girl thing."

At J.C. Penney customers were scrambling to find last- minute items before the door buster sale ends at 1 p.m.

This year a hot item appeared to be coats, which were on sale for $49.88. The store manager said the coats were going quickly.

Children's cameras had already sold out by 11 a.m. and electronic items were also selling quickly.

The shoe department was packed with customers trying to make last minute purchases. Several checkout lines stretched down the aisles in different departments.

Elsewhere, early crowds seem to have thinned out a bit.

At the Wal-Mart on Bobby Jones Expressway it was business as usual at 9 a.m.

Lines were short, and some cashiers had only one or two customers.

This was the first stop for Laci McNair of Harlem. She arrived at the store at 8 a.m. "We don't start as early as everyone else." She achieved her goal of finding a 19-inch Emerson LCD HDTV, with a DVD player for $198. She has many other stops planned for the day. "It's going to be an all-day event. That's for sure."

The Columbia County Sheriff's Office was patrolling the store and an officer said there had been no big problems all morning. Most customers were browsing in the toy and electronics departments.

Many of the shoppers were busy hours before.

Mary Harris of Augusta arrived at Old Navy at 3 a.m.

"It was so many people, I decided to go to my niece's house and take a nap," said Ms. Harris. Meanwhile her teenaged daughter waited in line. Ms. Harris returned to Old Navy at 6 a.m. where she still had to stand in line. She spent $243 and was able to find gifts for her grandchildren, including $10 pairs of blue jeans and $5 shirts. She said that she usually shops on Black Friday. "Just looking for a bargain."

At hh gregg nearby there were already 350 people in line when the store opened at 4 a.m. said Delivery Manager Paul Kochersperger.

The line stretched all the way to the street in the back of the parking lot. People arrived with sleeping bags at 7 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, said a store associate. All customers were allowed inside when the doors opened.

Best sellers were MP3 players, digital cameras, laptops and TVs. By 7:30 a.m. the store had sold out of Nintendo Wiis and some GPS models.

Checkout lines were long because the store was short five cash registers this year, said Mr. Kochersperger. hh gregg had opened quite a few stores this year and needed the equipment for the new stores. The store had one shoplifter who was caught by store security but things have otherwise been orderly. Managers and employees checked store receipts before customers exited the store. Mr. Kochersperger expects the store to be busy until lunch time. Many customers have prepaid for large items and will return later to pick them up.

At 6 a.m. Best Buy in Augusta had a line wrapped around the building. Security guards patrolled the line and the parking lot was packed. Shoppers waited eagerly in the cold temperatures.

Inside store associates said they had seen hundreds of customers since the store had opened at 5 a.m. An employee stood with balloons to indicate the end of the checkout line, which was wrapped around the inside of the store. Customers stood in a separate line for computer related items. That line also stretched across the store. Benjie Moore had been in line since Thanksgiving Day. His son had secured their spot at 7:30 p.m., and he took over at 10:30 p.m. because his son had to go to work. It was the first Black Friday for the 55-year-old resident of Augusta. He got his Sony laptop for $399.99.

"It got pretty cold. This is my first time, and I think it will be my last. Hopefully, we saved some money," Mr. Moore said.

Customers waiting in line received tickets for door buster items before they entered the store. The entire line of customers was inside the store by 7 a.m.

Best Buy has sold out of several laptop models. There were three Canon EOS Rebel Tli digital single lens reflex cameras still available at 6:45 a.m.

There were crowds elsewhere, as well.

By 3 a.m. the line at Old Navy had stretched all the way to Target and more customers were in the parking lot, according to a store manager. Shoppers had started lining up at 10 p.m. the night before, said a store associate.

At 7 a.m. the checkout line was wrapped in a horseshoe shape around the inside of the store. Table displays were in disarray. The store manager said that no items had been sold out yet at 7:15 a.m.


Police recommend these safety tips for holiday shoppers:

- Be aware of your surroundings at all times.

- Park in a well-lit area as close to the business as possible, and remember where you parked.

- Make sure your vehicle is locked and the windows are up.

- Hide all personal papers in your vehicle that could identify you or your address.

- If you use an ATM, make sure you’ve closed out your transaction.

- Carry minimal cash and valuables and wear minimal jewelry.

- Shop with friends or relatives

- Don’t walk to your vehicle with so many packages that your hands aren’t free.

- Don’t leave the store talking on a cell phone or fumbling with your keys

- Keep purses, handbags and backpacks close to your body.

- Don’t load your vehicle with items and then return for more shopping.

- If confronted, throw your valuables on the ground and run for help.

- If confronted, try to remember as much about the assailant as possible to help police. Get a tag number if the assailant uses a vehicle.


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