Black Friday rush starts off at a crawl

News Photo by Julie Riddle Shoppers LeeAnn Ludwig and Joan Ludwig pick up a few essentials and peek at Christmas decorations at the Alpena Meijer store on Thursday.

ALPENA — The Christmas shopping rush started at a crawl in Alpena as would-be shoppers stayed home and parking lots sat empty Thanksgiving afternoon.

For some years, a flurry of Black Friday of “doorbuster” sales — once constrained to the day after the holiday — crept further into Thanksgiving Day as retailers offered irresistible deals on Christmas gifts, luring bargain hunters away from turkey and football games and time with loved ones.

This year, many major retailers chose to stay closed on Thanksgiving, including Walmart in Alpena. Some fast food chains closed, as well, and Alpena downtown shops and many other businesses kept their lights off so employees could enjoy the holiday at home.

At the Alpena Meijer store, which opened for part of the day, a handful of shoppers browsed the store quietly Thursday afternoon, household necessities instead of Christmas gifts in most of their shopping carts.

The retailer offered Black Friday bargains all week, fending off the frenzy once associated with the day.

Thanksgiving is a day to be home with family, not to shop frantically, said customers Joan Ludwig and daughter LeeAnn Ludwig, who stopped by the store to pick up bread, milk, and a few cooking supplies.

LeeAnn Ludwig, who used to work for a store where Black Friday sales encroached into Thanksgiving more and more each year, said customers welcomed store owners’ eventual decisions to close on the holiday so everyone could stay home without feeling prodded to go out and shop.

Black Friday sales are often not worth the hype and crush of long lines and sleeping in tents outside stores that have marked the day in the past, especially when the same items are often available online for the same price, the women said.

“That’s not worth it,” LeeAnn Ludwig said. “I’d rather be with my family.”

Many Northeast Michigan shops will be open today, ready to welcome residents looking for a Christmas gift and a pleasant, not-frantic day of shopping.


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