As Black Friday Spreads Globally, A Push Against It Emerges
NEW YORK (AP) — The Latest on Black Friday (all times local):
As Black Friday spreads globally, in France an anti-Black Friday movement has emerged among e-commerce sites that oppose consumerism.
A French association called Zero Waste France got thousands of entrepreneurs and businesses nationwide to sign up to a Black Friday boycott via an online petition called "Count me out on Black Friday."
French furniture outlet Camif closed its website for 24 hours Friday in protest at the imported American big-spend day — and invites internet users to give to associations all day instead.
Camif's Product Chief Frederic Emery called Black Friday "an example that's to responsible consumerism" and said "what's more it is not part of French culture."
In France, over seven years Black Friday has slowly crept into the country on the day after Thanksgiving even though it's not celebrated in France.
At a shopping complex in Miami, Georgina Martinez came out of a Target empty-handed, saying she couldn't find good deals on toy cars and dolls she buys in bulk to send for Christmas donations in her native Dominican Republic.
She said the toys were either too modern or too expensive to buy in bulk. She doesn't buy online because she likes to see the quality of the toys in person but is afraid she may have missed out on early specials on websites for waiting until Black Friday to hit the stores.
Martinez was planning to head to Toys R Us, Walmart and a shopping mall to see if she had more luck.
Thirty-two-year-old Nanci Custer and her mother-in-law, Jeanne Custer, got an early start to their shopping Friday so they could make the 25-mile trip from Pendleton, Indiana, to downtown Indianapolis and hit the stores at Circle Centre Mall.
They left their homes about 6:30 a.m. for their Black Friday shopping tradition of visiting the downtown mall which they said they like because it lacks the throngs of shoppers who pack other Indianapolis-area malls.
The women spent most of their morning at the mall's multi-level Carson's store, where Nanci Custer said she spent just $67 buying gifts, mostly clothes, for six relatives.
Her mother-in-law's finds included an air-powered deep fryer, what she called "a no-guilt fryer" that normally costs $130 but which she got for $80, and a new comforter.
The Mall of America in Minnesota says that 2,500 people were in line at the 5 a.m. opening Friday, in line with a year ago. Shoppers started queuing up as early as 5:45 p.m. on Thanksgiving.
Jill Renslow, Mall of America's executive vice president of business development, said that stores like Nordstrom, Macy's and Best Buy were crowded. She said the items that caught shoppers' attention included were voice-activated devices like Amazon Echo, nostalgic toys, clothing and shoes.
Like other shopping centers, the mall has been fighting online buying by integrating technology with the shopping experience. Shoppers can now reserve a premium parking space on an app before heading to the mall. Renslow says more than 60 of the 500-plus stores now allow shoppers to order online and pick up the goods at the mall. That's a big increase from a year ago.
It's Black Friday, but retailers are already looking ahead to Cyber Monday.
Target says everything on its site will be 15 percent off on Monday, and it will offer discounts throughout the week on specific categories, such as 40 percent off towels and bedding on Tuesday. Amazon's deals on its gadgets were similar to its Black Friday ones, such as 40 percent off its voice-activated Echo Dot. But it added other deals, such as 30 percent off Lego sets and 50 percent off certain Hasbro toys, such as Nerf and Play-doh.
Walmart, meanwhile, says it has tripled the assortment and deals it had last year. Among its deals: 40 percent off a voice-activated Google Home Mini, $100 off the Barbie Hello Dreamhouse and $90 off the Xbox One S video console.
Shoppers are expected to spend $6.6 billion on Cyber Monday, up 16 percent from last year, according to Adobe Analytics.
Friends Yeshica Jeffers and Stacey Rhodes-Sofer hit a Walmart in suburban Albany, New York, before dawn.
Jeffers says it's a tradition, but it was more fun before stores started opening on Thanksgiving. Both women were adamant that Thanksgiving Day was for families and not for getting a jump start on holiday shopping.
Rhodes-Sofer said she was buying cosmetics for her 20-year-old daughter and books for her goddaughters — Jeffers' twins. Also on the shopping list: kitchen gadgets and fishing gear for her husband.
Both said they were spending more this year, especially Jeffers now that her daughters were into reading and science.
And both women said they'll still do plenty of online shopping, especially through Amazon
As shoppers begin their holiday buying in earnest, some popular items appear to be TVs, electronics and toys like Hatchimals.
Target said in a post on its website that popular deals included several big-screen TVs. In toys, it cited BattleBots and Hatchimals.
Greg Foran, CEO of Walmart's U.S. division, said Thursday that in the company's online sales that began just after midnight on Thanksgiving, a broad range of deals from toys to TVs to slow cookers and Google Home mini gadgets took off.
Linda Adair, who was shopping Thursday at a J.C. Penney in Columbia, Missouri, came with her husband from nearby Boonville to buy presents for charity and family, mainly clothing for the couple's grandchildren. She said in-demand toys include fidget spinners and Hatchimals, although she jokingly said the latter is overpriced and her granddaughter "is not getting one from us."
Workers at a half dozen Amazon distribution centers in Germany and one in Italy walked off the job Friday, in a protest timed to coincide with "Black Friday" to demand better wages from the American online giant.
In Germany, Ver.di union spokesman Thomas Voss said some 2,500 workers were on strike at Amazon facilities in Bad Hersfeld, Leipzig, Rheinberg, Werne, Graben and Koblenz. In a warehouse near Piacenza, in northern Italy, some workers walked off the job to demand "dignified salaries."
The German union has been leading a push since 2013 for higher pay for some 12,000 workers in Germany, arguing Amazon employees receive lower wages than others in retail and mail-order jobs. Amazon says its distribution warehouses in Germany are logistics centers and employees earn relatively high wages for that industry.
The strikes in Germany are expected to end Saturday.
Stores are hoping deals and excitement bring shoppers to stores and to their sites for Black Friday, one of the biggest shopping days of the year.
But Black Friday has morphed from a single day when people got up early to score doorbusters into a whole season of deals, so shoppers may feel less need to be out. Some love the excitement. Others may check their phones and go back to sleep. But the Thanksgiving weekend, when stores go all-out to attract shoppers, can be an indication of how they'll do through the season.
With the jobless rate at a 17-year-low of and consumer confidence stronger, analysts project healthy sales increases for November and December. Analysts at Bain say Amazon is expected to take half of the season's sales growth.
Associated Press reporters David Rising in Berlin, Frances D'Emilio in Rome, Thomas Adamson in Paris, Chris Carola in Albany, New York, Rick Callahan in Indianapolis, and Adriana Gomez Licon in Miami contributed to this report.
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