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Shoppers mobilize on holiday as retailers branch out

  • Thanksgiving holiday shoppers check out the bargains at the JCPenny store in Glendale, Calif., Thursday, Nov. 23, 2017. Shoppers are hitting the stores on Thanksgiving as retailers under pressure look for ways to poach shoppers from their rivals. As the holiday shopping season officially kicked off, retailers are counting on a lift from a better economy. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel) Richard Vogel

  • Thanksgiving holiday shoppers wait in a check out line at the JCPenny store in Glendale, Calif., Thursday, Nov. 23, 2017. Shoppers are hitting the stores on Thanksgiving as retailers under pressure look for ways to poach shoppers from their rivals. As the holiday shopping season officially kicked off, retailers are counting on a lift from a better economy. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel) Richard Vogel

  • Brenda Garcia, left, and Sonia Salgado look through the JCPenney flyer as they wait for the store to open on Thanksgiving, Thursday, Nov. 23, 2017, in Corpus Christi, Texas. (Courtney Sacco/Corpus Christi Caller-Times via AP) Courtney Sacco/Caller-Times

  • Shoppers are wrap around the building as JC Penney and Sephora at Broadway Square Mall in Tyler, Texas open their doors on Thanksgiving Day Thursday, Nov. 23, 2017. (Sarah A. Miller/Tyler Morning Telegraph via AP) Sarah A. Miller

  • Mercedes Guerrero looks for a pair of boots on a almost empty shelf at JCPenney shortly after the store opened on Thanksgiving, Thursday, Nov. 23, 2017, in Corpus Christi, Texas. (Courtney Sacco/Corpus Christi Caller-Times via AP) Courtney Sacco/Caller-Times

  • Women look through boxes of boots at JC Penney shortly after it opened Thursday, in Corpus Christi, Texas. ap photo

  • Holiday shoppers wait in line on Thanksgiving for the holiday bargains at the JCPenny store at the Glendale Galleria in Glendale, Calif., Thursday, Nov. 23, 2017. Shoppers are hitting the stores on Thanksgiving as retailers under pressure look for ways to poach shoppers from their rivals. As the holiday shopping season officially kicked off, retailers are counting on a lift from a better economy. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel) Richard Vogel

  • Joaquin Haces Garcia caries crockpots through JCPenney shortly after their 2 p.m. opening on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 23, 2017, in Corpus Christi, Texas. (Courtney Sacco/Corpus Christi Caller-Times via AP) Courtney Sacco/Caller-Times



Associated Press
Thursday, November 23, 2017

NEW YORK — Shoppers are hitting the stores on Thanksgiving as retailers under pressure look for ways to poach shoppers from their rivals.

As the holiday shopping season officially kicked off, retailers are counting on a lift from a better economy. But they’re also looking beyond economic data and mapping out ways to pick up sales from other retailers as Amazon expands its reach.

That can mean opening earlier than rivals on the holidays or even jumping into new product categories. So shoppers may find some surprises: toys and TVs at J.C. Penney, Barbies at Best Buy, kitchen appliances like wine refrigerators at B.J.’s.

At Macy’s Herald Square in Manhattan, it was the deals like cosmetic and perfume sets from $10 to $20 as well as 40 percent off on boots and shoes that drew attention. Its Apple shop was packed too, with deals on gadgets like the Apple Watch.

Tiffany Lloyd, in town from Columbia, Maryland, was visiting tourist sites when she realized stores were open.

“This is not a traditional Thanksgiving. We ate pizza,” said Lloyd, who was buying a pair of Naturalizer shoes at 40 percent off and said she planned to buy three more pairs. She said she also picked up sweaters on sale at Old Navy.

Despite the early crowds at stores, analysts at Bain say Amazon is expected to take half of the holiday season’s sales growth. And Amazon is the top destination for people to begin holiday shopping, according to a September study by market research firm NPD Group.

“The retailers are in survival mode. It’s about stealing each other’s market share,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at NPD. “Amazon is the Grinch. They’re stealing the growth.”

Abi and Sush Gyawali — both 27-year-old biology graduate students at the University of Missouri — were among hundreds of people who lined up outside J.C. Penney in Columbia, Missouri, before the store opened at 2 p.m. Thursday. Abi Gyawali normally shops online on Amazon or Best Buy for Cyber Monday, where he said he finds some of the best deals.

But he said the couple wanted to check out the scene at the mall before friends came over to share a meal. He and his wife planned to just collect coupons that were being handed out, but ended up getting a discounted air fryer.

With the jobless rate at a 17-year-low of 4.1 percent and consumer confidence stronger than a year ago, analysts project healthy sales increases for November and December. The National Retail Federation trade group expects sales for that period to at least match last year’s rise of 3.6 percent and estimates online spending and other non-store sales will rise 11 to 15 percent.

Amazon is expected to be a big beneficiary as it cements loyalty among its Prime members. That leaves stores looking at rivals to see where they can pick up sales. There are extra dollars up for grabs this year, after thousands of store locations have closed and several retailers filed for bankruptcy protection.

Target CEO Brian Cornell recently noted that up to $60 billion in consumer spending will be up for the taking in the next few years, and said the chain has been picking up market share in such areas as clothing.

Greg Foran, CEO of Walmart’s U.S. division, said that the retail giant’s holiday shopping season got off to a good start. It got things going in the first minutes of Thursday with an online sales event that featured a range of deals from toys to TVs to slow cookers and Google Home gadgets.

“We have a bit of momentum and we had a good kickoff online,” Foran told The Associated Press, “and with a bit of luck we are going to have a good 24 hours and be ship-shape for the weekend, and go from here to the 25th of December.”