Signs of the old Black Friday — long lines, packed stores and traffic snarled for miles — were few and far between on what used to be retail’s biggest shopping day.
At 7 a.m., Old Navy at Cherrydale Point — overflowing on Thanksgiving night — was less than half full. Parking spots were plentiful at Haywood Mall, and cars cruised at the speed limit on Woodruff Road.
“The pattern of Black Friday has completely changed,” said Stacy Jacobs, marketing director for Haywood Mall. “It used to be that Thanksgiving was kind of taboo, but now we’ve recognized that there are thousands of people who want to come out.”
Indeed, Thanksgiving may well be the new Black Friday.
Black Friday sales dropped 13.2 percent to $9.74 billion last year, and Thanksgiving sales were in part responsible for the decline, the Associated Press reported.
Jacobs said she believes the extra day of shopping means people have more time to spread out and get the deals they’re after.
Shoppers looked relaxed, not frantic.
Outside Bath & Body Works, friends Joanne Brigham and Cindy Lobo said shopping today wasn’t about the deals but having fun with family and friends.
Lobo brought her two daughters, Alexandria and Natalia, and all four sported matching neon green T-shirts.
Brigham, known by friends as “Cajun Jo,” also wore earrings shaped like Christmas lights that lit up.
They’ve been at the mall since it opened at 6 a.m., and the scene was a total contrast compared to what the group experienced at Walmart in Easley on Thanksgiving night.
Lured by bargain-priced dishes and a portable griddle, Brigham said she arrived at Walmart an hour before doors opened at 6 p.m.
“I’ve never seen so many people,” she said. “They were parking across the street, in the empty lots ... it looked like Mardi Gras with people walking to get to the parade.
As soon as 6 p.m. hit, “It went absolutely nuts,” said Cindy Lobo.
Fights broke out over Elmo dolls and iPads. Brigham said she watched a police officer knock down a display of crock pots trying to break up one of the fights.
The chaos they described was nowhere to be found late Friday morning.
Brigham said they would check out Kohl’s next and maybe, if the congestion wasn’t bad, head to Woodruff Road.
No worries there.
Traffic was light most of the morning along the corridor. Crowds were steady but not overwhelming inside Toys R Us and Babies R Us at Magnolia Park.
Store manager Zack Stanley said between 800 to 1,000 people were in line when the toy store opened Thanksgiving night.
The traditional Black Friday free for all “has moved to 5 p.m., basically,” Stanley said. “It’s pretty much the same experience, just spread out.”