2011 was the first year that big box retailers unrolled early Black Friday shopping on Thanksgiving, as early as 8 p.m. for stores like WalMart, Best Buy and Target.
At South Point retail center, a 600,000-square foot development in McDonough with stores such as J.C. Penney, Kohl’s, Hobby Lobby, Toys R Us, TJ Maxx, Ulta and Party City, there are plenty of options for shoppers in Henry County and on the southside in general.
Academy Sports, one of South Point’s retailers, opened at 5 a.m. today.
Jeremy Goldman, the manager at the speciality sports store, said foot traffic has been consistent since their early morning opening.
“It has been a great day so far,” he said. “Toys in general have done really well. The footwear and apparel have also done well.”
Goldman named deals on fitness equipment and grills as other hot items that seemed to be doing well.
Goldman also said he expected for the steady flow of shoppers to dwindle in the next few hours as the day winds down.
"I think everyone gets shopped out," he said.
Small business owners, such as Joan Wheat of Secret Garden on the square in McDonough and Darrell Miller of Trendsettas Apparel in downtown East Point experienced a different phenomena.
Secret Garden, which opened at 8 a.m., was not a crazed, mad dash, when the sign was flipped to open.
“I won’t say there was a flood at the door at 8 a.m., but we did have two ladies that started shopping at opening,” said Wheat.
Although slow in the initial morning hours, Wheat said the number of customers has picked up since the day has worn on.
"We expected them to a come a little later after they visited the bigger stores," said Wheat.
For the speciality store, which sells children’s clothing, home décor and other odds and ends, this trend is consistent with last year’s amount of shoppers and foot traffic.
Popular items at Secret Garden thus far are all Vera Bradley items and the magic elves, a children’s toy item.
Overall, Wheat said she was happy about the shoppers who did come in her store.
"We have been very pleased with the turn out," she said. "A lot of people are happy that they didn't have to go to the big box stores to get unique gifts."
Trendsettas Apparel, which opened at 11:30 a.m., has not benefitted from the later afternoon crawl of shoppers.
White said it has been a struggle to get anyone to walk through the doors.
"I think most of the East Point residents are shopping at the bigger stores," he said.
White said for the most part that downtown East Point was deserted.
"Every few minutes you might get a couple cars through the area," he said.
When the Neighbor spoke to him at 3:45 p.m., he said he was packing up for the day.
"I did have a few more shoppers come in, but they were repeat regulars," he said.
Check back with the Neighbor for a weekend wrap-up of the first weekend of Christmas shopping next week.