Angel Tree

Jessica Pemberton,left, and Joel Majors pick a tag off a Christmas Angel tree at the Chandler Fashion Center, Friday, November 26, 2010 in Chandler.

Tim Hacker

With Black Friday behind them, and some deals gone within minutes of stores opening, shoppers are looking toward “Cyber Monday.”

Cyber Monday got its name as shoppers turned to online sales to make purchases after Thanksgiving when they returned to a computer at work.

Most stores announce Cyber Monday specials shortly after Black Friday, the Friday after Thanksgiving and the traditional start to the holiday season, said Jeff Green, a Valley-based retail feasibility expert.

Cyber Monday sales grew 5 percent from 2008 to 2009. Green expects at least 7 percent to 9 percent growth this year.

“That puts it at $1 billion for the day” if national sales grow as expected, Green said. Last year, shoppers made $887 million in purchases on Cyber Monday.

Almost 60 percent of 2009 Cyber Monday shopping was done from the workplace, Green said.

“Talk about multitasking,” he said.

This year’s growth may be a sign of economic recovery and robust advertising by stores.

The National Retail Federation estimates holiday sales will increase 2.3 percent this year over 2009. Many shoppers started bargain hunting earlier this year, with deals available throughout November.

“Retailers are saying they think because they’ve been so promotional that sales have been done a little earlier,” Green said. “They also feel because Hanukkah is earlier this year, that sales for Hanukkah gifts have occurred before Thanksgiving.”

Hanukkah this year begins at sunset on Wednesday and ends at sunset Dec. 9.

Some shoppers still prefer the rush and hustle of Black Friday shopping, however.

Austin White and a large group of friends stood out in the bitter cold Thursday night to have the first spot in line at SanTan Village’s Best Buy in Gilbert.

But they were not without the comforts of home.

The group packed in two couches, a couple of cots and sleeping bags, three big-screen TVs, a game system and their satellite, all powered by a generator.

It’s the fifth year the group has spent Thanksgiving night outside the store.

“It’s fun. I think we’re all getting laptops and TVs,” the 24-year-old ASU student said. “We mostly stay awake with a lot of energy drinks.”

They were not alone. At 3 a.m. Friday, hundreds formed a line around the store. Many had been there for hours – including White, who got there at 1 p.m. Thursday. With temperatures in the low 40s at times, dozens kept warm in sleeping bags or under large quilts. One group even had a makeshift campfire made with items purchased from a convenience store.

Shelly Vance and fellow members of Amadeo Church in Gilbert showed up at 3 a.m. with free coffee, hot chocolate and donuts for the shoppers.

“It’s just something fun to do. We just thought it would be fun to bless the community. We have a whole crew around,” she said. It’s the third year the church members have made Black Friday shopping a ministry event.

Outside the Target Store near Chandler Fashion Center, Brandon Gurtoer, 20, was first in line for the 4 a.m. opening. He hoped to get an Xbox and 40-inch television that were on sale. It was his time waiting for Black Friday shopping.

“My brother said it was such a hot deal and I better leave now,” noting “now” was at 3 p.m. Thursday. “Of course no one else was here.”

Inside Target, just before the doors opened, Kent Cosby did last -minute checks. The head of security planned to let shoppers in 30 to 40 at a time.

“It will be a mass rush of people,” he said, noting “pretty much everybody who works for us,” was scheduled for Friday.

Cosby said he arrived several hours earlier to put line control measures into place, communicate with shoppers how the opening would go, “and to spread some goodwill and caffeine.” The Target staff brewed coffee early on for the first few shoppers in line.

As the doors opened, shoppers, including Gurtoer, grabbed carts. Target staff lined the entry way welcoming them. Most shoppers headed toward electronics. The 40-inch televisions were gone in minutes.

At the Best Buy next to Chandler Fashion Center, Daniel Duhigg, 28, said he and two friends were in line at 7 a.m. Thanksgiving morning.

Did they have a Thanksgiving meal?

“Does Jack in the Box count?” he said.

Duhigg and his friends hoped to purchase laptops once inside.

Steve Proeber, a mobile consultant with Best Buy, said it was his fifth year working Black Friday.

“It’s fun to watch the people come into the store bust through knowing what they want,” he said. The hot items this year included tablet computers, such as the iPad and Galaxy.

“Phones are hot nowadays too, especially smart phones. Nowadays people want devices that have everything,” he said.

Thousands of shoppers lined up outside Chandler Fashion Center by 10 p.m. for a chance to get a $10 Westcor gift card when the mall opened at midnight, spokeswoman Kimberly Hastings said.

Once inside, many of them went to the Gap, Justice or Sephora, which were offering early bird specials of 20 percent to 50 percent off.

Maricopa residents Jessica Pemberton, 22, and Joel Majors, 26, stopped for a few minutes after 5:30 a.m. to select children to buy presents for off the Christmas Angel trees.

Both worked in retail on past Black Fridays and were excited about getting to do the shopping this year, but also wanted to help others.

“We have extra money this year. I would like to help out the kids. What they ask for is so simple, like a CD player. Who doesn’t have a CD player? I saw the trees and I thought I can afford to do it this year,” she said.

At the south Chandler Kohl’s store, people waited to check out their purchases in lines that weaved around from the back of the store.

“We have so many great items for our customers. We’re seeing lots of toys, lots of shoes, lots of electronics” sold, said Erick Martinez, the store manager.

Carol Gaab was in line about 6:30 a.m. using an empty display box to push her items, including clothing and home supplies, to the front. She was shopping with her daughter and her son’s girlfriend.

“We study our ads and see whatever we want the most then go there first,” she said.

Her favorite purchase? A pair of gloves.

It’s the fourth year her daughter, Katie, has done early Friday morning shopping with her mom.

The women planned to be home by 10 a.m. or so. But they were not planning to go back to bed.

“We plan to decorate the house and eat and get Starbucks,” she said.

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