Before the sun came up and with frost on the ground, shoppers began flooding into the Fred Meyer Fishers Landing store, mostly on the hunt for half-priced socks.
While the traditional Fred Meyer 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. sock sale remained a strong Black Friday tradition for many local shoppers, the scene at Westfield Vancouver mall Friday morning was mostly quiet following a retail splurge that began on Thanksgiving evening.
At Fred Meyer, Debi Huff and Peggy Foxworthy sifted through cardboard boxes brimming with socks — everything from Carhartt, Under Armour, Columbia Sportswear, and more. The Black Friday has been tradition for the friends from Washougal for the past few years.
“It’s the half price,” Huff said. “Everybody gets socks for Christmas.“
Foxworthy grabbed a pair, turning to Huff: “Feel those,” she said to Huff. “And they’re $6, which means they’re only $3.”
“My husband says you can’t have enough new socks,” Foxworthy said.
Nearby, when asked what brought him to the big box store at 5 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving, Lorezno Villagomez of Camas replied, “my wife.”
The couple have been doing the sock sale for over 10 years.
“You can’t beat the price and the quality,” Mirelda Villagomez said, adding the mood at Fred Meyer is cordial. “Everybody’s really nice, polite and no problems,” she said. “You don’t see the meanness of people pushing each other out of the way.”
Local retailers have reason to hope for strong sales in the period leading up to Christmas. Taxable retail sales in Clark County from April through June jumped nearly 15 percent over last year, the state revenue department reported recently. In Vancouver, sales went up nearly 17 percent. Both exceeded the state’s one-year sales increases.
Nationally, retail sales are expected to rise 3.7 percent between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31, according to the National Retail Federation, but online sales are taking an ever-larger piece of the pie. The retail trade group projects online holiday sales will increase by 6 to 8 percent. In Clark County, last year’s online retail sales in the October-to-December period were up by 25 percent over the previous year, according to Scott Bailey, regional economist for the state Employment Security Department.
Of course, many eager shoppers no longer wait for Black Friday, heading to the malls on Thanksgiving evening or deep in the night. At Westfield Vancouver, “traffic was strong throughout the night and many of the stores that opened Thursday evening reached their goals by midnight,” said Chris Yates, the mall’s marketing director.
Black Friday shoppers were mixed on their opinions about shopping on Thanksgiving Day.
“We object to that,” said shopper Marty Crisp of Tigard, Ore. as she shopped and “people watched” with her two daughters, aged 40 and 41. They said Thanksgiving is family day and Black Friday is for heading to the stores.
“It’s our bonding day,” said Crisp, whose cart was filled by a massive plush stuffed green alligator.
Over at the Westfield mall, stores opened Thursday evening, with some remaining open all night and others set to reopen Friday morning. Shoppers were sparse and some stores hadn’t reopened by 7:30 a.m. Mall officials said they expected shopping to pick up around 10 a.m.
“It seems pretty quiet this year. It’s usually an all-out war,” Steve Kennedy of Vancouver said.
Black Friday is a tradition for his family, and he usually hits the big box stores like Target and Wal-Mart, but this year they came out to the Bath and Body Works in the mall Friday morning to snag some deals. His wife hit some stores on Thanksgiving Day.
Kylie Enger, 19, and her sister Maecy Enger, 23, of Battle Ground, who shop every year on Black Friday “for ourselves” and then let their mom wrap the gifts, also found it to be calmer than usual.
“It’s really weird this year. It’s really quiet,” Maecy said, adding she thought it likely had to do with online deals and the mall being open on Thanksgiving Day.
The girls agreed that shopping on Thanksgiving was “not OK.”