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Black Friday ushers in shopping season
Black Friday
Crowds line up to check out in the North Face outlet at North Georgia Premium Outlets on Black Friday. - photo by Joshua Demarest

It’s become as much a Thanksgiving tradition as football and turkey — lining up at midnight to get a jump start on the Christmas gift list on what has become the biggest shopping day in America. This year was no different, and Dawson County’s shopping venues were as busy as ever with shoppers and families searching for the best deals.

“This is when families and friends kick off their holiday traditions,” said Taylor Bennett, director of marketing & business development at the North Georgia Premium Outlets.

Black Friday has been part of the American consciousness since the 1950s, though the term ‘Black Friday’ wouldn’t be associated with the holiday until much later.

During the height of the mall craze in the 1980s and ’90s, Black Friday sales routinely began around 6 a.m. During the mid-2000s, American consumers began to see those times push earlier and earlier—stores that opened at 6 a.m. started opening at 5 a.m. and then 4 a.m.

Eventually, in 2011, many major retailers began opening at midnight. By 2012, these same retailers started opening as early as 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving itself.

Since then, Black Friday deals have begun to be pushed to the entire week, or even the whole month of December. This “Christmas creep” as it is sometimes called, coupled with the rise of online shopping and digital sales like “Cyber Monday” have actually resulted in a somewhat diminished role of Black Friday in the economy. But that doesn’t make it any less important to the families who participate.

“Spending time together, having fun—we always have a great time,” said Crystal and Tammy, sisters who have been bringing their families to the North Georgia Premium Outlets all the way from Chattanooga, Tenn., for over a decade.

That sentiment was echoed by brothers Dre and Braelyn Dozier of LaGrange, Ga., who have traveled to Dawson County for their Black Friday shopping since 2017. They were looking for deals on gifts for their friends and family, and had been waiting in line at the Nike outlet for half an hour.

Shoppers came from all over the southeast and all over the world to partake in the tradition. The thousands of visitors to shops along the Ga. 400 corridor resulted in traffic delays and parking shortages. Some reports claim that traffic in some parking lots and bottleneck areas on Lumpkin Campground Road didn’t move for upwards of thirty minutes.

With the return of Black Friday, the Christmas season is officially upon us.