Area shoppers seek out Thanksgiving sales

Best Buy employees pass out door-buster coupons two hours prior to opening the doors as patrons line up outside the store in Waterford for sale items on Thursday, Nov. 23, 2017. (Tim Martin/The Day)
Best Buy employees pass out door-buster coupons two hours prior to opening the doors as patrons line up outside the store in Waterford for sale items on Thursday, Nov. 23, 2017. (Tim Martin/The Day)

Waterford — Area shoppers flocked to stores Thanksgiving afternoon and evening to jump on some of the season's best deals, including a 50-inch smart television at Best Buy.

Tiffany Loftis of Norwich and Zachary Valentine and Trisha Carroll of New London were the first in line at the store, all planning to buy that TV. Carroll said she had been there since about 10:30 a.m. and normally goes shopping with her aunt; Loftis and Valentine, newcomers to the Thanksgiving shopping scene, got there around noon.

The Sharp TV retails for about $500 but was on sale for $179.99; Loftis and Valentine noted that it was one of the best deals this year.

About 12:30 p.m., they were the only people in line, but they said there had been a lot of people driving by. The store was slated to start handing out tickets to people in line starting about 3 p.m., and they expected more people to arrive around then. Valentine joked about how many fights they'd end up seeing that night over the TVs and other items on sale.

"Hopefully we can get a ticket and get something to eat instead of sitting here until 5 o'clock," Loftis said. "It's pretty calm right now. I feel like tomorrow is going to be pretty crazy."

"I'm getting this TV today," Carroll said. "I just bought a house, so I need that TV in my living room."

According to the National Retail Federation, about 164 million people planned to go shopping sometime over Thanksgiving weekend, though only about 19 percent of them had planned to go shopping on Thursday. In comparison, about 70 percent of them had planned to go out on Black Friday.

Brick-and-mortar stores saw a slight decline in sales last year between the two days, largely due to the rise in online shopping and deals extending all weekend and into the next week. Online shopping sales rose 4.28 percent in 2016, according to Adobe Digital Insights.

The same study also found that a majority of people, up to 77 percent among adults ages 35 and up, support stores being closed for the holiday. Nadine Hellwig of Groton, who was about 20th in line at J.C. Penney about 1:30 p.m., agreed.

"I really don't think people should have to work on Thanksgiving, but I appreciate that they do," she said.

She said she was mostly shopping for her mother, who wasn't able to come with her that day. Since her mother is on Social Security, she wanted to take advantage of the sales to stretch the limited income as far as she could to get nice gifts.

Hellwig said she had been out Black Friday shopping in previous years, especially when her kids were little, but this was the earliest she had been out. Once the store opened at 2 p.m., she had planned to buy some comforters and blankets, as well as a few more pairs of the winter boots she was wearing. Later, she was planning on meeting up with her brother to visit Kohl's and Walmart, strategically working around dinner to get gifts for the rest of the family.

"Most of the people, they're really nice," she said about the line. "It's not like the old years where everybody would be fighting. Everybody is just so awesome."

a.hutchinson@theday.com

From left, patrons Chris Diaz of New London, Zachary Valentine of New London, Tiffany Loftis of Norwich and Trisha Carroll of New London line up outside Best Buy in Waterford for sale items on Thursday, Nov. 23, 2017. Three of the four were in line for a Sharp 50-inch television, including Carroll, who was first in line, arriving at 10:30 a.m. (Tim Martin/The Day)
From left, patrons Chris Diaz of New London, Zachary Valentine of New London, Tiffany Loftis of Norwich and Trisha Carroll of New London line up outside Best Buy in Waterford for sale items on Thursday, Nov. 23, 2017. Three of the four were in line for a Sharp 50-inch television, including Carroll, who was first in line, arriving at 10:30 a.m. (Tim Martin/The Day)

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