Free parking, no lines

Angelica Paniagua, 22, arrived at Best Buy’s Galleria well before sunrise, looking for a classic Black Friday experience.

The Mexico City native was several years behind.


“I thought it would be more crazy,” said Paniagua, who is in Houston, doing medical research. “At the moment, the situation is very calm.”
Despite about 80 shoppers lined up at the big electronics retailer in Richmond when it opened at 5 a.m., Black Friday is no longer a 24-hour mine of exclusive deals, long checkout lines, and packed stores with shoppers fighting for the door. – Buster Deals. It’s being done in more relaxed stores and online, and for many retailers, over the course of about two months.
However, the decades-long evolution didn’t kill what was once the biggest shopping day of the year. According to the National Retail Federation, more Americans planned to shop this Black Friday than in each of the past six years, and 35 percent of Houstonians polled by Deloitte this year said they plan to take advantage of Black Friday deals.
Among them were Leslie Davila and Ozzie Torres. As they strolled through Best Buy, Torres said they were looking forward to Cyber ​​Monday. The online equivalent attracts nearly twice as many shoppers as Black Friday, according to a National Retail Federation survey and generates $11.2 billion in revenue, Adobe Analytics estimates, more than $2 billion compared to Black Friday.
Comfort makes all the difference, Davila said. While shopping online, she can see the entire inventory of the retailer and not have to worry about what is in the nearest physical store. There is no competition with others for the same thing.
Davila said she will most likely wait and make her purchases online.

Right now, I’m thinking, ‘This laptop looks nice. Let me think about it. And then maybe I’ll order it online,” Davila said. “It’s a different Black Friday this year.”
At Academy Sports + Outdoors in Upper Kirby, store manager Jose Deleon said shoppers are turning to the internet to get deep discounts from the retailer on bulky items like treadmills, barbecues and game tables. What’s more, he said, many of the Academy’s most popular deals start on Sundays, driving customer traffic over the course of a week instead of crushing one day.
In Rice Village, Monica Tijerina and her husband, Cesar, said they still liked to shop at the store, especially for shoes, which he was looking for at western clothing store Tikofas. “You want to try them,” Monica said.
Rice Village stores opened at 9 a.m., just an hour earlier than usual. It gave people time to shop at the big box retailer before lunch and a look at the shops in the neighborhood, said senior general manager AJ Jennings. She said it’s the new kind of Black Friday experience that a lot of people are looking for — one that starts later and is more relaxed.
This situation has spread to some malls in the area. Brookfield Properties said all but one of its Houston-area centers opened at 9 a.m., an approach they started a few years ago. Opening later allows workers to spend mornings with their families, and it reduces operating costs, said Stephanie Prager, senior vice president of retail real estate management at Brookfield.

While big-box retailers and local malls saw slow traffic, Houston-area mall operators said they saw the opposite: full parking lots, arms full of shopping bags and long lines to get in.

When Katy Mills Mall opened at 6 a.m., about 300 people lined up to be the first, according to Lisa Connolly, the mall’s director of marketing and business development. By 10 a.m., Connolly said, lines were forming to enter popular stores like Adidas and Coach.
Foot traffic has been strong throughout the day, said Alicia Thomas, director of marketing for Houston Premium Outlets at Cypress. In particular, Thomas said she saw many families come through the mall to shop and get food.
“Black Friday shopping is an annual event, and many families still love being able to get out and enjoy the shopping and festivities together,” she said. “We have young children, we have teens here with their parents, we have couples here; it’s great.”

megan.munce@chron.com

shelby.webb@chron.com

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