Long lines as San Antonio consumers kick off holiday shopping season on Thanksgiving

November 23, 2018

San Antonio consumers, fresh off Thanksgiving dinner, flocked to area malls and shopping centers Thursday evening to kick off what retail analysts say could be a record holiday shopping season.

At least 100 shoppers lined up outside the Best Buy at Legacy Shopping Center on the North Side just before the store opened at 5 p.m. Inside, dozens of employees buzzed about the sales floor or stood waiting at registers.

Soon, shoppers poured into the store, packing aisles to snatch up discounted 55-inch ultra high-definition TVs, Amazon Echos and gaming consoles.

“I didn’t even want to come out for this honestly,” Jason Ellis, 34, said as he loaded his Chevrolet Colorado pickup with two ASUS computer monitors and an HP Omen Gaming Desktop computer tower, gifts for himself.

But Ellis said he saw the items were marked down up to 40 percent so he hopped in his truck after eating a Thanksgiving dinner of prime rib.

“We’re not big on turkey,” Ellis said.

Some consumers said they had either finished their holiday gift buying or planned to do so online. Thursday’s shopping trip will likely be his last for the season after wrapping up his Christmas shopping online last week, Ellis said.

When asked what he would do with the time he might’ve spent shopping in the coming weeks, Ellis said, “Deer hunting.”

Married couple Dustin Smith and Lora Smith and their 10-year-old son Austin waited outside the Best Buy two hours before it opened, snatching up two televisions measuring 43 inches and 50 inches, a Samsung sound bar and an HP printer among other electronics, including some gifts for relatives.

“We wouldn’t have done this without eating Thanksgiving dinner,” Dustin Smith, 34, said, noting that Best Buy is the only store they physically visit to purchase gifts.

But the family plans to do the majority of their holiday shopping online, Dustin Smith said, primarily because they live an hour away in Canyon Lake.

Groups of shoppers milled about North Star Mall after it opened at 6 p.m. Thursday, lugging bags from The Disney Store, JCPenney and GameStop.

Sisters Martha Bailey, 62, and Rose Alvarado, 57, waited outside GameStop for Alvarado’s daughter, two large Macy’s bags full of baby clothes, pants and a pair of Converse shoes among other clothes.

The sisters said shopping after Thanksgiving dinner is a bit of a tradition — while the men in their family stay at home and watch football. Bailey and Alvarado said they started shopping at 5:30 p.m. and could go until 9 p.m.

By 6:30 p.m., Alvarado had already spent about $120 at Macy’s. After GameStop, they planned to go to The Disney Store to buy toys and clothes for their grandchildren — and to begin collecting Christmas ornaments for Alvarado’s soon-to-be-born granddaughter.

But Alvarado and Bailey said they each have gift-buying to do after Thursday evening, which they plan to do in stores. Bailey said she’s heard horror stories from friends and relatives about trying to return items bought online.

“I like to come out here and see the people,” Alvarado said of shopping at brick-and-mortar stores. “It’s (shopping online) not the same.”

Retail sales could jump as much as 5 percent year-over-year, analysts have said. The National Retail Federation projects receipts during the two-month shopping season of November and December could hit $721 billion — compared with $687.9 billion last year.

Much of that increase is expected to take place online. Adobe Analytics, which tracks online shoppings, has said online retail sales could climb 15 percent from $108 billion last year to $124.1 billion this year. About a fifth of those sales are expected to take place between Gray Thursday and Cyber Monday.

Joshua Fechter is a San Antonio-based staff writer covering retail and tourism. Read him on our free site, mySA.com, and on our subscriber site, ExpressNews.com. | jfechter@express-news.net | Twitter: @JFreports

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