It was black outside when Allison Mossman hit the stores on "Black Friday," the day after Thanksgiving, which has earned the reputation as the busiest shopping day of the year. Just as turkey on Thanksgiving is a tradition, getting out early on Black Friday is Mossman's tradition as well.
"I got out about 5:30 [a.m.], I was surprised to see friends out. The bulk of it's [shopping] done, mostly my friends and family," the Lee High School sophomore said.
This is Mossman's fifth year shopping early. Maria Delgado and son Andrew arrived at Circuit City by 6 a.m., only to be greeted by a line and rebate sales.
"We were out looking for the sales. We come out every Black Friday," said Maria Delgado. "It's the thrill of the hunt."
Julia Hawk had a deadline, so she got to Springfield Mall early. At 8 a.m., the trio of Hawk, Kim Howell and Denise Hodges, who was visiting from out of town, had to get home to watch the children while their husbands went golfing. The three women were all toting bags.
"We got here at 5:30, but the stores didn't open until 6, to get bargains and leave the kids home," Hawk said.
Burke teenagers Sakeena Farhath, Humera Begum and Hameeda Tasmeen got to Springfield Mall before 8 a.m. They had a whole day of shopping planned.
"They have good sales. [We'll] spend the whole day out shopping," Sakeena said.
"We started at Staples at 6:30. We woke up late," Humera added.
Karin Price of Springfield hoped to beat the rush.
"We thought we were all slick showing up at 6:30 in the morning. I think next year, we're just going to sleep in," Price said.
"Black Friday" is a term in the economic world which describes when retailers go from being in the red, not making profit, to the black, or being profitable. Before computers, accountants used a red pen to indicate losses and a black pen for profits.
The early-morning shopping sprees were fueled by sales covering certain time periods. John Holmes was visiting Annandale resident Judy Kusuma. He was from Atlanta, Ga. They hit Springfield Mall first.
"Last night we did a lot of research on the sales," Holmes said.
CHILDREN with wish lists trickled into Santa's castle at a slow but steady rate that morning, but Old Dominion University freshman Brittany Mohay was manning the Big Bird doll when the tots got too apprehensive to sit on Santa's lap. Lee High School senior Lisa Bell helped as well.
"Most of the time it works, Big Bird or Elmo. The kids are familiar with ‘Sesame Street,’" Mohay said.
Assistant marketing director Latisha Click heard the rings of "Star Wars" characters and Barbies topping the wish lists.
"We've had more since 11 [a.m.], but the mall's been hopping since 6 or 7 a.m.," Click said.
Holiday sales could make or break some retailers. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, a section of the U.S. Department of Commerce, sales were up in the third quarter of 2003 and continue to look good. In the third quarter of 2003, gross domestic product was up 8.2 percent compared with the second quarter, when it only rose 3.3 percent.
At Springfield Mall, the anchor stores — Target, J.C. Penney's and Macy's — opened early, but the other stores weren't required to be open until 8 a.m., according to Click. Some opened early anyway, and Click said Kay Bee Toys opened at 5 a.m. Katie Kroll works at Macy's in the mall. The management there had the staff ready for the Black Friday onslaught.
"We expected it to be really busy. People were at the door at 5:30 [a.m.], to be there when the doors opened at 6," Kroll said.
The Springfield Mall management did not have figures to determine whether Friday sales were higher than last year.
Burke resident Bob Dizon has already noticed an increase in spending over last year.
"I know we're buying more than last year," Dizon said.