LIMA — Traditional early-morning “Black Friday” shopping trips are getting even earlier — in some cases almost a full day earlier than in the recent past.
And while a great many consumers are likely on their way as you read this to malls and retailers in and around Lima for what has become a post-Thanksgiving family shopping tradition, the times they are a-changing.
Gone for the most part are the overnight campouts where consumers gathered to wait in line — sometimes for up to 24 hours — to get an extraordinary deal on a 54-inch flat screen TV or the latest and greatest video gaming system. Retailers, eager to get an even earlier jump on the holiday shopping season, have in recent years begun to open their doors on Thanksgiving Day. Such was the case Thursday in Lima.
More than 100 shoppers were lined up at 1:30 p.m. outside the JCPenney store in anticipation of the national retailer’s 2 p.m. opening.
And virtually each person in line had an identical answer when asked what brought them out on Thanksgiving Day.
“The coupons,” said one woman who declined to give her name. “I’m trying to get a $500 off coupon.”
Another person in line agreed. “It’s all about the coupons. What percent of discount I get will determine what I’m shopping for,” she said.
Celina resident Joan Ward and her daughter LeAnne made the trip to Lima Thursday for a shopping adventure.
“It was either clean house, watch TV or go shopping,” Joan said with a laugh, indicating it actually was a fairly easy decision.
“We had our family Thanksgiving last Sunday, so we thought we’d spend some quality time together,” LeAnne added.
They, too, were lured by the prospect of receiving a coupon that would give them between $10 and $500 off their purchases.
Adam and Courtney Osting of Fort Jennings had a more specific purchase in mind as they stood outside the store.
“We’re here to get the coupons and some sweaters for our dogs,” Courtney said. “We have four dogs of our own and we’re fostering two other dogs for a rescue group — that makes six dog sweaters to buy.”
Chappell Otto and Chase Barnes were near the end of the line as the store prepared to open. Chappell said she has gone shopping on Thanksgiving Day “for as long as the stores have started opening.” She said she was out “just looking for a deal, and I drug him (Barnes) along with me.”
They hoped to complete their shopping trip quickly. A Thanksgiving dinner awaited them later in the afternoon.
While JCPenney was the first major retail store in Lima to open on Thursday, others soon followed suit. Kohl’s and Macy’s flung their doors wide at 5 p.m. and the entire Lima Mall opened at 6 p.m. Meijer and Walmart were open all day, but Black Friday specials at each of those stores began at 6 p.m.
Gone this year were a pair of store that over the decades had become Lima holiday shopping staples. Toys R Us and Sears each closed their doors earlier this year.
According to the National Retail Federation, Black Friday weekend is traditionally the busiest shopping days of the year because they kick off the holiday season. A press release from the retail trade group says 30 percent of annual retail sales occur between Black Friday and Christmas, with shoppers spending on average $1,007.24 each.
Reach J Swygart at 567-242-0464.