Black Friday got underway at the North Georgia Premium Outlets last night at 6 p.m. and the large open air mall stayed open all night for eager shoppers to take advantage of door buster sales.
“We’re seeing an increase in our traffic numbers so far. But it’s kind of interesting because…we closed in the middle of the night last year and we were kind of stretching it out this year so it will be interesting to see how that plays out throughout the day,” said Randall Jackson, Director of Marketing and Business Management for the outlet mall.
Around 4 p.m. Nov. 22, shoppers began lining up at stores, two hours before the mall officially opened, hoping to be the first in line for holiday deals.
Until 3 a.m. Friday morning, the outlet mall parking lot was at more than 100 percent capacity, with shoppers parking along the side of the road.
“I got here at 4 a.m. and you know there were still people parked all along the side of the road on Dawson Forest Road so it’s been pretty crazy,” Jackson said.
By 7:30 a.m. Friday morning, the number of shoppers diminished as the late night shoppers made their way back home to rest or went out to grab breakfast before hitting the stores with their second wind.
Jackson said the mall expects to see an upturn in Black Friday shopping in the afternoon.
But for strategist shoppers, coming into the outlet mall as the first swell of crowds ebbed worked in their favor.
“I got here about 3:30 a.m. and it was nice and calm and everybody was leaving,” said Chas Martin.
Martin, who lives in Cumming, came to Dawsonville to shop for her family of seven.
“It was actually pleasant,” she said.
Other shoppers arrived bright and early at 6 a.m. Nov. 23 and took advantage of the short lines at the stores.
“This is my first time (Black Friday shopping),” said Nick Forrester, from Gainesville. “There’s not as many people as I thought just because a lot more people got here last night.”
Natalie Forrester, who started the tradition of Black Friday shopping a few years ago, taught Nick the ropes of navigating Black Friday deals. Their strategy for next year is to come early Friday morning to miss the large midnight crowds.
And some shoppers like Roxanna Pacheco and Rodrigo Herrera from Gwinnett County didn’t have a strategy. They just got up early and came to Dawsonville to see what they could find.
“We really just walked into all the stores,” said Herrera.
With the popularity of online shopping, Jackson said consumer reports still show brick and mortar stores like the outlets having a strong holiday shopping presence.
“People still like to touch and feel things. We always talk about the fact that just because you see a shirt fitted on a model doesn’t mean it will fit you the same way so people like to come out,” Jackson said. “People like to shop. People like the, especially this time of year like Black Friday, being out with family and friends and the environment and the ambiance you can’t get online.”