The traditional Black Friday holiday shopping rush is off-and-running across the state.
In the pre-dawn hours in downtown Atlanta, a “big box” retailer had steady traffic in its parking lots and in its stores already by 5:30am.
In Buford, one of the biggest malls in Georgia has been busy all day.
The Mall of Georgia 30 miles northeast of Atlanta opened its doors at 5am. But several retailers got the jump by welcoming shoppers a bit earlier, some even at midnight.
The mall’s Carol Cox says parking lots were at least half-full by 6 am, and nearly full by late morning.
As for what the mall’s 200-plus retailers expect for this shopping season, Cox says:
“We’re cautiously optimistic this year. Our property has a diverse lineup of retailers, and there are definitely some great bargains to be had this time of the year.”
National surveys show consumer spending is expected to be up 2 to 3 percent over last holiday season.
But, a credit union survey on holiday spending shows most Georgians will either spend the same—or less—than they did last year.
Nearly 53 percent of people surveyed say their holiday gift budget will stay the same as last year’s. And 44 percent plan on spending less.
Holiday shopper Shane Thompson at the Atlantic Station in Atlanta says he won't be buying as much.
"Well, I’m going to be having a child soon, and I’m trying to save money for that and it seems like the sales aren’t that great. And I'm just trying to save money," says Thompson.
The survey feedback comes from 6,000 members of Georgia Credit Union Affiliates. The group’s Eric Jenkins says consumers will be picky on what—and where they spend their money:
“People are much-more price conscious, they’re looking for the best possible bargain. And another thing that we’re seeing is a continued change toward people paying more cash, as opposed to loading up credit card debt or taking out other kinds of loans.”
Jenkins says in their survey, more than 40 percent of people said they'd spend between $100 to $500. And he says about 16 percent of those surveyed plan to stay within a $100 gift budget
Contributors: Melissa Stiers