LIMA — Asked why they lined up early outside a retail giant’s locked doors on a cold Thanksgiving Day, the answers were eerily similar.
“Great deals,” said Tammy Bixby, of Wapakoneta.
“Free money,” Lima’s Melissa Clark chimed in. Several others agreed.
“Towels,” said Jen Cummins of Perry as she waited for the 2 p.m. opening of the JCPenney store in the Lima Mall.
“Yes, they have really nice towels here. And they’re really cheap,” said Cummins. “They always have good deals here, and they give away free cash, too.”
Yes, every customer passing through the doors of the mall’s anchor store gets a coupon that could transform itself into cash prizes of between $10 and $100.
“We do this every year. I’ve been waiting for this day. I got $100 (in free money) last year,” said Bixby.
First in line was Erica King, of Lima. She and a friend had arrived at 11 a.m. — three hours before opening — to begin their Thanksgiving Day shopping experience.
“You can always use a little extra Christmas cash,” King said of the store’s giveaways. “And this year I’m trying to buy some good gifts for my family for a change,” she laughed.
If there was a prize for traveling the furthest to shop in Lima on Thursday (and there isn’t), it surely would have gone to Zamora Katuramu. Standing in line with her boyfriend, George McLaurine, the native of Uganda said she was in Lima visiting relatives and got caught up in the phenomenon that is holiday shopping in America.
According to industry analysts, the five days from Thanksgiving until Cyber Monday (Dec. 2 this year) make up the single busiest stretch for retailers of the entire year.
According to TaskHusky, the period between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday generated 19.2% of the total holiday revenue last year. That five-day period accounted for $24.2 billion in sales, a 23% increase from one year earlier. Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday all broke sales records.
Cyber Monday 2018 was the largest ecommerce day in history so far with $7.9 billion in online sales, according to the website. Black Friday was the second-best day for online shopping, raking in $6.2 billion. The total online holiday spending during the five days of the cyber week was $24.2 billion in 2018.
While surveys show that as many as one-third of Americans indicate they will do their Christmas shopping exclusively online this year, there are still those consumers who lean toward the traditional brick-and-mortar stores to fulfill their needs. According to Statista, a surprising 54% of customers prefer shopping in-stores. Why? Because they can find one-of-a-kind gifts, highlighting the fact that Christmas shopping is not about purchasing Christmas presents only.
That was quickly evident by taking a glance at the line outside the JCPenney store on Thursday. Penneys wasn’t the only retailer getting a jump on Black Friday. Big-box retailer Meijer opened its doors at 6 a.m. Thursday and Dunham’s Sports welcomed holiday shoppers beginning at 3 p.m. Macy’s and Kohl’s opened at 5 p.m.
Industry stats reveal a interesting trend when it comes to Christmas gift-giving. Gen X’ers lead the way in holiday spending with an average of $782 spent. Millennials spend the second most during the holiday season at $609 and Baby Boomers tend to spend the least — $576 on average.