Holiday shoppers hit stores on Thanksgiving

Holiday shoppers hit stores on Thanksgiving

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - A number of people across our area got a head start on their holiday shopping, Thursday evening.

"Because tomorrow will be worse than today, and there were good sales today, and we've got nothing to do," said Mykayla Jones.

"And we were bored," added Joyce Samuels.

The two were shopping at the Oglethorpe Mall Thursday, and they're not the only ones out and about for the holiday. The number of people shopping on Thanksgiving Day has gone up seven-percent since 2012, according to the National Retail Federation.

"Industry-wide, it's been the past three years that malls and retailers have been opening on Thanksgiving," said Paul Baker, Senior General Manager of the Oglethorpe Mall.

The Oglethorpe Mall opened at 6 p.m. Most of its department stores were open through the night. Hundreds of people lined up for bargains at the Best Buy in Savannah, where televisions were the most popular item.

One shopper, Randy Ward, was only there out of necessity - to replace the radio in his truck. He saw some people already lined up when he drove by early this morning.

"And I'm like, 'are you kidding me?" he laughed.

Needless to say, Ward went home and came back later. Despite Thursday's crowds, being open for business on Thanksgiving has gotten its share of criticism.

At the Oglethorpe Mall, about 90 percent of the stores were open Thursday, but not because it's mandatory. Businesses there have the option of remaining closed on the holiday.

The mall's general manager said their decision to open on the holiday is based on customer demand.

"Many shoppers have made Thanksgiving, Christmas shopping, part of their family routine, actually," said Baker. "And, we're more than happy to serve them in that regard."

For a lot of shoppers, that was the case.

"This is a tradition. I always come up the week of Thanksgiving, because I teach and so we're off this whole week, so I always come up to Savannah because my family lives here," said Latoya McCormick.

Of course, Black Friday itself is still a busy day for retailers as well, but online shopping is growing in popularity, too. Last year 40 million more people shopped on Cyber Monday than on Black Friday.

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