Strong Black Friday Sales

FRESNO, Calif. The biggest crowds came in the afternoon, even though most of the biggest sales ended several hours earlier. That's exactly what the retailers wanted.

Stores all over the Valley offered some of their best deals in the early morning hours, and usually in very limited numbers.

Fresno State marketing professor Bill Rice says the early sales are actually bait for the entire weekend.

"People were standing in line for sometimes 24 hours to get those few things," Rice said, "but they've created so much buzz that people are all excited about 'Well, what else do they have going?'"

The proof for Rice's theory was the afternoon crowds. Hundreds endured traffic jams at Fashion Fair Mall or Target's electronics aisle, even knowing the big sales were done.

"I didn't come out this morning on Black Friday, so this is under my terms," said Sarah Hrusecky of Las Vegas, while she shopped at the River Park Target. "But there are some great deals to be had."

An exclusive Action News poll conducted by Survey USA shows that 30% of Valley residents planned to start their holiday shopping on the weekend after Thanksgiving -- 27% of men and a third of all women.

But more than half of them plan to spend less money this year, which is good news for bargain retailers like Walmart and Target.

"I think everybody has what we call 'tiered down'," said professor Rice. "They're going to a different level of expenditure."

No matter what the store, the most successful Black Friday shoppers come with a plan beyond just saving money.

"I know what I want," said Todd Haddock of Fresno as he shopped in River Park. "I'm coming to get a Razor scooter for my nephew. These people here, they're lost. They're just walking in circles, you can tell. I know what I'm coming to get, so I'm going to get that, I'm going to get a pair of shorts if they're on clearance, and that's it. I'm done."

Back Friday is called that because it's supposed to be the day retailers come out of the red and start turning a profit.

But after the worst shopping season in 40 years last year, the National Retail Federation doesn't expect things to be much better this year.

But stores in the Valley tell Action News the season is definitely off to a good start.

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