Video report by Jeevan Vittal, Fox CT
Text by Brian Dowling And Mikaela Porter, The Hartford Courant
Christmas shoppers looking for bargains stretched the season a little longer this year as many began lining up Wednesday night to take advantage of sales at stores that opened Thanksgiving Day.
Jonathan Sailor of Hartford was the first in line at the Best Buy in West Hartford. Wrapped in a blanket, Sailor headed to Best Buy about 5 p.m. Wednesday with a goal — a 55-inch flat-screen television, marked down from $999.
“The deals are too good, I had to go,” Sailor said Thursday night, two hours before Best Buy opened. After purchasing the television, Sailor said he will have finished his Christmas shopping. Although Sailor said he relied on different websites to look for the best deals, he didn’t do much online shopping.
Right behind him in line, Nathalie Muniz of Hartford decided to check out the Thanksgiving Day deals as well.
Muniz headed to Best Buy Wednesday night about 7 with her brother to start Christmas shopping — the two were interested in deals on a Kindle, and said they were also interested in buying an external hard drive and a 3D DVD player.
Although she’s gone Black Friday shopping in the past, Muniz said that this year’s trip on Thanksgiving would be “the first and the last time” she would do an overnight camp out.
After buying their gadgets, the brother and sister planned on catching up with family and celebrate Thanksgiving.
The McCarthy family of five sat rosy-cheeked in front of Toys “R” Us Thursday night to start and finish their Christmas shopping. They skipped Thanksgiving because, according to Melanie McCarthy, “it’s all about the shopping.”
For Danny Deschaine and Megan Wirtes, Thursday night was just the tip of the Christmas shopping iceberg. After finishing an early Thanksgiving dinner at Wirtes’ grandmother’s house, the couple headed to Best Buy for the $499 55-inch flat-screen television to start their Black Friday all-nighter. After purchasing the flat-screen television at Best Buy, the Bristol couple planned to head to different stores and get all their Christmas shopping done.
Most Black Friday shoppers in Connecticut say they shop for the low prices (91 percent) and for the jump-start on holiday shopping (69 percent), according to a UConn/Courant Poll released Monday. Connecticut residents also say they shop because it’s a family tradition (48 percent) and there’s a better selection of merchandise (45 percent).
Retail industry groups expect holiday sales to increase more than 3 percent from last year, even as consumer confidence remains low. Regardless, the promise of deals will be enough to send thousands into shopping mode in Connecticut.
Vanessa Ayala, 30, a New Haven resident, said she plans to shop on Black Friday. “It’s kind of nice to wake up early and get something for three dollars rather than 20.”
Some, though, say the brick-and-mortar deals aren’t enough to compete with online retailers.
“I don’t think it’s really worth it because I can usually find anything I want for similar prices online,” said Donald King, 65, a Bristol resident.
- Thirty-six percent of Connecticut residents said they started shopping before Thanksgiving, according to the poll. Two percent said they planned to start on Thanksgiving Day, and 28 percent planned to start soon after the holiday. Eleven percent said they have plans for a last-minute rush of shopping.
- Five percent of Connecticut residents planned to shop on Thanksgiving Day, and 19 percent planned to shop on Black Friday. Most said they would shop in person (91 percent) on those two days, with less than half (44 percent) expecting to shop online.
- Twenty-seven percent of Connecticut residents said they would do most of their shopping online during the Christmas season. Twenty-one percent said they mainly shop at department stores, and 20 percent mainly shop at big box stores. Local non-chain stores come in at 12 percent.
- Thirty percent of Connecticut residents said their family has enough money for their shopping needs, and 47 percent said they have just enough for shopping. Twenty-two percent said they don’t have money for holiday shopping.
The poll — which included responses from 534 randomly selected state residents and 1,187 nationally from Nov. 16 to Nov. 21 — has a 4 percentage point margin of error for Connecticut responses and 3 percentage points for national responses.