Whether it was too much turkey, stuffing and pies, or whether Black Friday shopping kickoffs actually began Thursday, shoppers weren’t exactly storming the big-box stores on what traditionally is the busiest shopping day of the year.
The parking lot at Walmart on Noble Boulevard in Carlisle had many empty spaces as late at 11 a.m. and a trip inside the store revealed even fewer shoppers.
The same could be said about the Carlisle Target store on Westminster Drive and the Toys R Us store in Mechanicsburg.
By noon, traditional Black Friday crowds were not to be found — only casual shoppers were strolling the aisles.
Toys R Us spokeswoman Jennifer Samuels said none of the chain’s corporate officers were available to comment Friday. Efforts to reach officials at Walmart, Target and Sears were unsuccessful.
The lack of large crowds could have something to do with stores such as Walmart and Toys R Us straying from traditional Black Friday opening times.
In year’s past, many customers rushed to get to stores at midnight or as early as 5 a.m. This year, Walmart held early-bird shopping specials at 8 p.m. on Thursday. Toys R Us and Sears also opened at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving Day while Target opened at 9 p.m. on the holiday.
The early openings were seen by retail sales experts as an effort by stores to make shopping more convenient for those still facing economic uncertainty. Earlier openings also are seen as another tool to compete with websites such as Amazon.com, where consumers often find lower prices.
While Black Friday may not have been what many of the big chain stores envisioned, small businesses in the area reported that they did well even as they geared up for Small Business Saturday.
“We’ve been crazy all day long and we’ve even had people waiting on line outside,” said Nikki Richie, assistant manager of Mountz Jewelers in Carlisle.
“This is a family-owned operation and we appreciate that people want to shop here,” Richie said.
Alicia Lamparter, owner of Carlisle Art & Frame, said business was brisk on Friday. “We’re having a good day,” Lamparter said. “Being a small business isn’t easy, but we’ve been doing custom framing for 25 years and a lot of people were off work (Friday), so they were bringing in all they needed for frames,” she said.
As Black Friday wore on, business was picking up at the Carlisle Sports Emporium.
“We’ve got a couple of big groups coming in playing laser tag,” manager Mike Baer said. “We had a birthday party scheduled and some other things. People have family visiting, they spend the day shopping and then they come in here,” Baer said.