Jennifer Leal is a self-proclaimed shop-a-holic but it’s been more than four years since she came out to shop on Black Friday.
This year, she was back and focused on her mission: stocking up on “good deals” for herself at Dadeland Mall. Her tally included candles two for $20 at Bath and Body works plus a gift bag for $20 with goodies inside, 25 percent off a Michael Kors rose gold watch, a free bag from Victoria’s Secret, plus a splurge on some black heels.
“I love shopping. It is my thing,” said Leal, 30, a University of Miami student who lives in Westchester. “But my economic situation has kept me from coming to Black Friday for so long.”
Like Leal, thousands of South Florida residents feeling better about the economy this year came out for Black Friday to get a start on holiday spending or to splurge on themselves. With sales kicking off at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving night and continuing throughout the day Friday, crowds gathered from Sawgrass Mills to Dolphin Mall and at big box stores like Walmart, Target, Best Buy and Bass Pro Shops.
While not everyone liked the retail creep into Thanksgiving, the timing worked well for Cutler Ridge resident Amanda Chattic. She waited in an hour-long line outside the Michael Kors accessories store at Dolphin Mall.
“This way we didn’t have to get up at 5 a.m,” said the retiree, whose next stop was Macy’s midnight opening.
The quality of the deals depended on the shopping list. This wasn’t the year to find 70 percent off storewide sales. Some of the best bargains were on 40-inch televisions priced at $179 at Best Buy and $147 at BrandsMart — nearly one third the usual price. Both sold out in less than an hour.
Other good deals: Nautica and Tommy Bahamas outlets in Sawgrass offered 50 percent off the entire store. Android tablet computers were priced under $100 at many stores. A 40 percent off storewide sale at Old Navy drew lines that stretched through the chain’s Dolphin Mall store.
At the Apple store in Aventura Mall, the line started forming at 11:30 p.m. Thursday night for the 6 a.m. Friday opening. It’s the only day of the year that Apple officially discounts many of its top products.
Dennis Obando, 22, of Ft. Lauderdale, was the second person in line in order to get his hands on a new mini iPad.
“It was worth standing here all night because it is way cheaper than buying it online,” said Obando.
At Walmart and Target, certain iPads came with free gift cards. The same formula was used for an iPod Touch at Toys R Us, where other popular items included the Wii U and Skylanders.
Jeans for $9.97 were flying off the shelves at Bass Pro Shops in Dania Beach, along with a $10 G.I. Issued Ammo Box, a smoker for $179.97 and a $29.97 kid’s ATV vehicle.
Bass Pro shopper Bud Worland’s West Palm Beach landscaping business has picked up enough that he said he expects to spend about $1,500 on gifts this year — about 20 percent more than last year.
“I feel better about spending more since work is good,” said Worland, as he waited to check out at Bass Pro.
At Macy’s stores throughout South Florida, customers came with lists in hand and searched for specific items like women’s boots at $39.99, Bulova watches for $99 and cosmetics gift sets.