Buyers brave rain to cash in on deals

With umbrellas and raincoats Black Friday shoppers shield themselves from the early morning rainfall as they wait outside Home Depot just past 5 a.m. Friday.(Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald)

Brownsville residents didn’t let nuisance rain ruin their Black Friday shopping.

On Friday, many gathered in front of local stores as early as 12:30 a.m. hoping to be some of the first to cash in on deals and beat the crowds out shopping later in the day.

Jorge and Jo Ann Delgadilla said they had been waiting in front of the Home Depot on Morrison Road since just past midnight. The couple has done the same thing for the past four years in a row in order to get discounted Christmas decorations.

A line of shoppers wound all the way down to the end of the building. They gathered in coats and umbrellas, drinking coffee handed out by store employees and strategizing with store flyers in their hands.

Home Depot was the first store to open on Black Friday, at 5 a.m. People also gathered at Target, as well as in front of Best Buy, which didn’t open until 8 a.m.

Jose Abel Castelan stood in line with a towel around his neck while waiting outside Home Depot, wiping his face off as it continued to rain on and off.

Everything from Poinsettias, to inflatable characters was discounted.

Poinsettias that normally sell for $4.98 were on sale for 99 cents. Inflatable characters, such as Olaf, were on sale for $69.98. The normal selling price is $129.

This year’s holiday shopping season is the shortest since 2013 because Thanksgiving fell on the last Thursday in November — the latest possible date it could be. That means customers will have less time to shop and retailers will have less time to woo them, The Associated Press reported.

Target reported Friday that 1 million more customers used its app to shop on Black Friday deals compared with last year. The discounter said customers bought big ticket items like TVs, Apple iPads and Apple Watches, according to the AP.

The National Retail Federation, the nation’s largest retail trade group, baked the shorter season into its forecast, but it says the real drivers will be the job market. It forecasts that holiday sales will rise between 3.8% and 4.2%, an increase from the disappointing 2.1% growth in the November and December 2018 period that came well short of the group’s prediction.

Last year’s holiday sales were hurt by turmoil over the White House trade policy with China and a delay of nearly a month in data collection because of a government shutdown. This year’s holiday forecast is above the average holiday sales growth of 3.7% over the previous five years.

NRF expects online and other non-store sales, which are included in the total, to increase between 11% and 14% for the holiday period.

.A survey published by PricewaterhouseCoopers showed that only 36 percent of Americans surveyed by the company planned to shop on Black Friday this year, a drop of nearly 23 percent since 2015.

Around 54 percent of those surveyed said that they planned to do their holiday shopping online this year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.