PROVIDENCE – Whether for the thrill of a bargain, the need to stretch a holiday budget or an excuse to get out of the house, shoppers like Linda Tanso of Gardner, Mass., kicked the holiday shopping season off early at Rhode Island stores Friday.
“I have been out since midnight and I’m a little delirious,” Tanso, 53, said at 9 a.m. emerging from Best Buy on Route 2 in Warwick on her way to Savers next door.
At Best Buy Tanso had bought some DVDs on sale, but even after visiting seven stores since midnight, estimated she had only spent about $80 for the day.
“It’s mostly for the deals,” Tanso said. “It gives me an excuse to go shopping.”
At 9:30 a.m., traffic was already backing up at some intersections along the Route 2 shopping corridor and parking lots at many of the big box retailers were jammed.
“I drove by here last night and the line was so long I went home,” said Mike Jones, 44, of Providence, who returned Friday morning to buy a television.
Heading in to the Christmas shopping season, most retail analysts nationally and locally were expecting holiday sales to end up similar to last year and said many retailers would be happy not to see sales fall in the weak economy.
In downtown Providence, where the streets were comparatively quiet compared to the malls, stores like Craftland on Westminster Street brought in extra help and were seeing steady business despite not offering any “doorbusters.”
“Last week was pretty good and today there are a lot of people around,” said Manager Devienna Anggraini. “At quarter of [10 a.m.] there were people outside the door, so we opened early.”