GREENFIELD — They clutched the advertisements in their hands, eyes darting from the colorful papers in their hands up to the shelves of products before them.
Janice Hornbuckle and Hayley Ward could be found late Thursday perusing the sales at the Greenfield Walmart, regularly consulting ads from competing retailers — their road map to the best deals.
Their biggest purchase of the night would be the popular fitness device, Fitbit, a Christmas present for a loved one, and they wanted to make sure they got the right price.
Hornbuckle and Ward were among hundreds who headed out after their families’ Thanksgiving celebrations had concluded to kick off the Christmas shopping season. Some 59 percent of Americans — about 137.4 million people — were expected to shop this year for Black Friday deals, experts with the National Retail Federation said.
And some of Hancock County’s newest stores drew crowds for their inaugural Black Friday events. Clothing stores new to Greenfield, including Kohl’s and Rue 21, were filled with customers late Thursday and early Friday morning who were looking to cash in on slashed fashion department prices. Additional shoppers flocked to the nearby Walmart, filling the toy and electronic departments where they scoured for the best deals.
Some shoppers said they headed out shopping after their Thanksgiving Day meals in hopes of crossing all the items of their Christmas shopping list in one swoop. Others wanted to take advantage of the Black Friday sales to buy household necessities at cheaper-than-usual prices.
Kohl’s opened for business in September. Clothing and shoe stores Maurice’s, Shoe Dept. and Rue 21 followed suit about a month later in the strip mall built in conjunction with Kohl’s on the west side of the property just southeast of Interstate 70 in the Greenfield Business Park.
Just south of the Greenfield Business Park at Walmart, cars packed the parking lot starting Thursday evening.
Aubrey Aithoff of Greenfield visited both Kohl’s and Walmart late Thursday looking to buy new clothes for her 8-month-old daughter. Having a fast-growing baby means keeping the closets at home stocked with new items, she said.
Thursday night, she could be found loading Christmas onesies and dresses into her cart in preparation for her daughter’s first holiday season.
Though Ward was out Black Friday shopping for the first time, Hornbuckle of Greenfield is a Black Friday regular, who often heads out after her family’s Thanksgiving dinner to get her holiday shopping done.
With her list ready and written, Hornbuckle said she was sure she could get all her grandkids’ Christmas presents purchased in one night, meaning she needed to brave the shopping crowds just once during the holiday season.
Black Friday has become something of a misnomer in recent years, with many retailers kicking off sales as early as the beginning of Thanksgiving week. Walmart’s Christmas sales began at 6 p.m. Thursday, and by 9:30 p.m. when Hornbuckle and Ward were Fitbit-hunting in the supercenter’s electronics department, the crowds had lessened a bit.
But she preferred it that way, she said.
“Last year was crazy,” she laughed. “This year was much quicker.”