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Black Friday shoppers flock to Long Island malls

Black Friday sales drew lines at some stores in the Tanger Outlet mall in Deer Park. However, trackers are estimating that foot traffic in stores nationwide is down for Nov. 25, 2016. (Credit: Steve Pfost)

This story was reported by Aisha Al-Muslim, Daysi Calavia-Robertson and Victor Ocasio. It was written by Ken Schachter.

Long Island shoppers made a beeline to malls, shopping centers and retail outlets on Black Friday, despite continued migration to e-commerce and retail analysts’ predictions that foot traffic would be down again this year.

Marshal Cohen, retail analyst with the NPD Group, a Port Washington market research company, said that “anecdotally” the popularity of big-screen TVs is fueling increased consumer spending.

“We’ve got slightly less people shopping, but they’re spending more when they do shop,” he said.

In a 7 a.m. spot check at a single cash register at Macy’s in Roosevelt Field mall Friday, Cohen said seven people were waiting in line compared to 70 a year ago.

Tracking sales, however, becomes less clear as retailers shift store hours and extend Black Friday promotions online and in stores, he said. “It’s a new dynamic . . . We’ve just reshuffled the days.”

Disney Store North America, for example, announced that it is pushing its Cyber Monday deals forward to Saturday.

Still, many Long Islanders headed to the stores Friday.

Dennis Murray, general manager of Dick’s Sporting Goods in Melville, said guns and ammunition are hot items for Black Friday shoppers.

Andrew Mekalainas, 29, of Bethpage, saved $150 on his “new toy,” a Remington 783 bolt-action rifle.

“I like going to target practice so I’m happy I was able to save some money on this,” he said.

First-time Black Friday shopper Chris Ilsley, 37, was surprised to find few crowds at the shops he visited.

“There’s been no lines at any of the stores,” said the Hicksville resident who was shopping for a new flatscreen TV with his girlfriend at the P.C. Richard & Son store in Deer Park.

Massimo Caradonna, general manager of the store, said Black Friday sales were running higher than last year.

Some shoppers relished the shopping experience itself.

Samantha Barrett, 35, of Plainview, found a Black Friday deal at the Huntington Station Target store where she stocked up on pillows.

“I bought 14 pillows! They were $3,” said the staff developer at Columbia University.

Barrett’s friend, Gessi Goodman, 40, of Bellmore said she enjoyed the camaraderie.

“Shopping is fun and we like hanging out together,” said Goodman.

Plus, Goodman said she found a jacket at Anthropologie.

“It was 30 percent off,” she said. “Look how cute it is!”

At the Century 21 store at Green Acres Mall, general manager Stephanie Stagl said store traffic is in line with last year. “We will see an influx . . . over the weekend,” she said.

Twin sisters Carolyn Notice and Michelle Bertram, both of Rosedale, had hit Green Acres as soon as the mall opened at 6 a.m. Friday, continuing their 17-year tradition of shopping on Black Friday. Their goal was to buy clothes for their children and boots for themselves.

“The sales could be a bit better, but Black Friday is a tradition to us,” Notice said.

Also maintaining a tradition were Megan Sampson, 29, and her brother Sean Sampson, 24, both Bronx residents. They started their shopping at 3:30 a.m. at the Tanger outlet stores in Deer Park.

“We’ve just been here the whole time,” Megan Sampson said just before 9 a.m. “We’ve come here for the past five, six years.”

Sampson said that she and her family, who collectively spent about $1,000 so far, were happy to avoid a lengthy checkout.

“The place hasn’t been packed at all,” she said. “We haven’t waited on any lines.”

Overall, consumers’ experience mirrored data suggesting that brick-and-mortar shopping on Black Friday will continue to lose some of its buzz, after retailers opened on Thanksgiving Day and offered big discounts throughout November, and more buying migrated online.

Market researcher Adobe Digital Insights reported online retail spending of $490 million between midnight Thursday and 8:30 a.m. Friday. Adobe forecast that Black Friday e-commerce will grow 11.3 percent from last year, passing $3 billion for the first time, while spending on mobile devices will set a record of more than $1 billion.

“You can get great deals online and they’re not specific to Friday,” said Thomas Shinick, who teaches at Adelphi University’s Robert B. Willumstad School of Business.

Service disruptions beset the website of Macy’s Inc. for a time on Friday with online visitors being diverted to a page with a countdown clock telling them when they could resume shopping.

Target reported record-setting Black Friday sales at The Minneapolis retailer also said that its stores sold more than 3,200 TVs every minute in the first hour they were open on Friday.

Total Black Friday foot traffic is expected to be down about 3.5 percent compared with last year, according to location intelligence company Foursquare. Last year, Black Friday saw a significant decrease in foot traffic compared with the year before, with in-store sales grossing $10.21 billion for the day, down 11.9 percent from 2014, according to ShopperTrak, a Chicago-based provider of shopper analytics. In comparison, $2.74 billion was spent online on Black Friday, a 14.3 percent increase, Adobe found.

The results of the presidential election will have little impact on people’s moods during the holidays, according to a survey by Washington, D.C.-based Consumers’ Research. Two-thirds of respondents said the election would have no impact on their holiday cheer, while 16 percent said it would have a positive effect and 17 percent said it would have a negative impact.

“Shopping will be a big part of the recovery from the election, Cohen said. “People will go out and spend and life goes on.”

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