BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (WCCO) — Black Friday is the official start to the holiday shopping season, and it started earlier than ever — 8 p.m. at the Mall of America.
A new report by the University of St. Thomas says this is the mall where most Minnesotans will do their holiday shopping.
“We love the bonding experience, hanging out with each other,” said shopper Nicole Klinkhammer, who was at the mall Friday.
There was a lot of buzz about starting Black Friday too early, but the Mall of America team says as long as people want to shop, they will be open. And it’s working out fine so far. They project a higher turn-out than last year, when the mall opened at midnight.
In 2012, more than 215,000 people came to the mall on Black Friday. This year, the mall is on track to easily pass that number. More than double the usual number of people are expected to hit the mall.
One-hundred stores opened doors on Thursday evening. The spokesperson for the mall says several stores followed suit after Macy’s announced it would open at 8 p.m.
By 8 a.m., there were 148,000 people – up 11 percent compared to that time last year.
The race for competition has some shoppers impressed and walking out with handfuls of bags, but others are holding out for better deals closer to Christmas.
“We’ve been here since 5 a.m.,” said shopper Naor Bitton. “So there’s a lot of people, but still not as many sales as one would think.”
Maureen Bausche, executive vice president of business development at MOA, says they started prepping for the holiday shopping season in July.
“This is our Super Bowl, so you have to be game ready,” Bausche said. “By 8:30 – 9 o’ clock, we had 50,000 people in the building.”
Clare Foreman a shopper from Eagan, says she thinks the earlier hours helped cut back on long lines.
“It’s not as bad as I was expecting, especially when we first got here it wasn’t that crowded,” Foreman said.
Mall officials also saw a lot of shoppers coming in with a game plan.
“Everything was listed online and they looked at who was opening, what time, what their percentage off was, because it’s always about the deal at this time of year,” Bausche said. “And then they plotted their strategy.”