Over 1,000 shoppers wait in line for Target’s Black Friday 2016

ST. GEORGE — More than 1,000 shoppers stood in line Thursday waiting for Target to open its doors for Black Friday, which actually started on Thanksgiving Day. And at 6 p.m., the wait was over as the long line of patrons ushered in retail’s biggest weekend as the 2016 holiday season began.

People lined up from Target's front doors south to Lowes Home Improvement Center Thursday evening waiting for Black Friday to begin, St. George, Utah, Nov. 24, 2016 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News
People line up from Target’s front doors south to Lowe’s home improvement center Thursday evening waiting for Black Friday to begin, St. George, Utah, Nov. 24, 2016 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

More than 137 million people spent more than $67 billion on Black Friday in 2015, and sales projections for this year are even greater, according to the National Retail Federation. Retail sales in November and December are projected to exceed $655 billion.

In St. George, the line of waiting consumers went from Target’s front door south past Lowe’s home improvement center, yet once the Target doors opened, the entire line emptied into the store in just over 40 minutes.

Initially, the number of customers allowed into the store was limited, and Loss Prevention Manager Wayne Passey counted heads, allowing 15 customers to enter the store at a time, every 20 seconds.

“It creates an atmosphere of calm,” Passey said, “so they’re not rushing and stampeding.”

Black Fridays were much different in previous years, he said, with no monitoring system in place, so when the doors opened, everyone waiting by the doors rushed in. With 1,000 people waiting, that can lead to problems.

This is Passey’s 32nd Black Friday at Target, starting off in Arizona and then transferring to the St. George store 15 years ago. In prior years, customers were allowed to enter the store all at once, he said, which created problems.

There has not been a single incident since the new system was implemented a few years ago.

People lined up from Target's front doors south to Lowes Home Improvement Center Thursday evening waiting for Black Friday to begin, St. George, Utah, Nov. 24, 2016 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News
People line up from Target’s front doors south to Lowe’s home improvement center Thursday evening waiting for Black Friday to begin, St. George, Utah, Nov. 24, 2016 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Passey has seen it all since starting with the company back in the early ’80s, and he has worked every Black Friday since then.

For Target management and staff, Black Friday is an event that takes months of planning to ensure that the store is stocked with enough inventory for the influx of holiday shoppers, Target assistant manager Holly Loveless said, including hundreds of flat screen televisions.

It’s all in the organization, Loveless said. Having everything organized allows shoppers to find what they are looking for easily, which makes for a more enjoyable experience.

“I think we’re very organized,” Loveless said, “and no fights, so that’s always good.”

Ashton Berrett and William Richards were in and out of the store in just over an hour, Berrett said. They waited in line for approximately 40 minutes and then went in and had no problems picking up a a new Vizio 40-inch flat screen TV.

“I thought it was fun,” Richards said, “and we had a good experience.”

Target started with early doorbusters on Wednesday, Loveless said, after which the crew started preparing the store for Black Friday. After all of the planning, ordering and organizing, it came down to the final 24.

Customers entered 15 at a time every 20 seconds when doors opened during Target's Black Friday 2016,with St. George Police officers on hand Thursday, St. George, Utah, Nov. 24, 2016 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News
Customers enter 15 at a time every 20 seconds when doors ope during Target’s Black Friday 2016, with St. George Police officers on hand Thursday, St. George, Utah, Nov. 24, 2016 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

“It takes a good 24 hours for us to get things ready,” Loveless said, “and everything out on the floor, but there’s definitely months of advance planning for what we need to do.”

For shoppers Mandy Pfoutz and Tonee Hammons, Black Friday is just part of celebrating the Thanksgiving weekend, leaving plenty of time to enjoy traditional holiday festivities while saving money on gifts for Christmas.

“We had our dinner early and cleaned up,” Pfoutz said, “and now we’re going home to eat pumpkin pie.”

Zack Warner wasn’t hard to miss as he left the store with the almost life-sized Star Wars character Darth Vadar sitting in the cart. After spending approximately 35 minutes in line, he was able to go into the well-stocked store and was out within 45 minutes, he said.

“We got our big guy here, Darth Vadar,” Warner said, “and we were out the door, but we had plenty of time to shop and they had tons of stuff in there.”

Black Friday 2016 is bringing on the deals as shoppers take advantage of huge savings offered by big box retailers all across the nation.

Target CEO Brian Cornell, who was at the store in Jersey City, New Jersey, told Anne D’Innocenzio, retail writer for The Associated Press, Friday morning that he’s encouraged by early reports from stores around the country, citing lower food and fuel prices and a solid job market as reasons to be optimistic.

“It’s really a good time to be a consumer,” Cornell said.

The National Retail Federation expects retail sales in November and December (excluding autos, gas and restaurants) to exceed $655 billion, and online sales are forecast to reach $117 billion. NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said:

All of the fundamentals are in a good place, giving strength to consumers and leading us to believe that this will be a very positive holiday season. … This year hasn’t been perfect, starting with a long summer and unseasonably warm fall, but our forecast reflects the very realistic steady momentum of the economy and industry expectations.

None of this would be possible without extra staff on hand. This year, retailers are expected to hire between 640,000 and 690,000 seasonal workers this holiday season.

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Email: cblowers@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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3 Comments

  • .... November 25, 2016 at 3:49 pm

    I hope all enjoyed their thanksgiving dinner with friends and loved ones and now begins the hectic shopping season. with the hustle and bustle that goes with it just be aware of your surroundings and be safe out there. Happy Shopping !

  • utahdiablo November 25, 2016 at 8:47 pm

    It’s one thing to get up and out early on the day after Thanksgiving to save a few bucks, I get that, but the stores being open on Thanksgiving, like JC Pennys at 3 pm, what the hell, let your family have time together, you think paying a few hundred bucks to make dinner, then spending days getting it all together, just to have family come over, choke down the grub, then split out the door to grab some deals?? Nope this shopping craze on Thanksgiving day needs to stop, or go feed your faces at McDonald’s and don;t bother to come over..

  • Rainbow Dash November 26, 2016 at 9:46 pm

    I agree witrh Utahdiablo here. Black Friday is one thing. Looking back, as a retail veteran of 10 years, I can say that I looked forward to working it most years. The day was busy, usually went pretty quickly and the customers were usually understanding of the long lines and other things that come when 10 people are vying for 8 televisions. I can understand Black Friday.

    Thanksgiving day on the other hand is another story altogether. There are no real “sales” on Thanksgiving day and to be honest, I wouldn’t shop on Thanksgiving day even if there were. No one I know shops on Thanksgiving day and and the few times I did work it, NO ONE CAME IN THE STORE! NO ONE!

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