Black Friday traditions continue in Cobb despite inflation

Nov. 26—KENNESAW — Some can't pass on the deals. Others enjoy the bustling atmosphere.

And some, the younger ones, just want to make sure Santa understands the intricacies of their wish list.

This Black Friday at Town Center at Cobb, the MDJ chatted with mall shoppers about how their holiday shopping was shaping up this year, given inflation.

The National Retail Federation estimated that a record 166.3 million Americans would shop on Black Friday through Cyber Monday this year. Meanwhile, a survey from retail group Alvarez and Marsal found that 7 out of 10 holiday shoppers are changing their spending, trying to save during the season.

Jackie Kelley of Acworth got a deal on an artificial Christmas tree from the Belk at Town Center. She said she got a tip from another shopper while at Hobby Lobby, and was able to find a tree around $200 cheaper — a discount she said was meaningful, considering her budget.

Kelley and her husband have five kids, and she said increased prices have changed their holiday spending.

"We've had to get creative," Kelley said, adding that she has searched for secondhand gifts for the younger kids at resale stores.

Karen Martin, a 79-year-old from Cartersville, said her family was cutting down on their usual amount of gifts using a system similar to a secret Santa where people are assigned gift-giving duties.

"I love being able to shop for the whole family but this year we just can't," Martin said. "We've had to cut down a lot so we can even have Christmas."

Four generations of Martin's family were shopping together this Black Friday — Martin was joined by some of her great-grandchildren. She said for at least 40 years, she has been going out on the unofficial holiday to get good deals.

Sheila Wilson of Kennesaw came to the mall wearing a mask and T-shirt that both read "Black Friday Diva." She said her family has made early and lengthy shopping expeditions on the day after Thanksgiving for more than 20 years.

In that time, she said the feel of the holiday has changed as companies spread sales throughout the month of November and offer more deals online. Shoppers don't have to brave crowds or early start times in the same way.

Wilson misses the busier, earlier Black Fridays. She used to eat Thanksgiving dinner, go to sleep early and wake up in the early hours of the morning to shop.

"It's sad to see the traditions change," Wilson said.

This year, Wilson started shopping at 5 a.m.

Wilson said she has not noticed the effects of inflation on her holiday shopping because she always looks for great deals.

The Cottee family come from New Orleans to visit their Cobb County grandmother, Kim Spangenberg, every year. While they may do some Black Friday shopping at Town Center, the main draw is a visit with Santa.

They said they've been near the start of the line to see Santa on Black Friday for the past five years.

Landon Cottee, who is 8, said he planned to ask Santa for a Silver Tempest Elite Trainer Box — a specific set of Pokemon cards and game pieces.

John Cottee said his son was impressed seeing Santa in person.

"He saw him and he was like 'Oh Dad, I think it's really him,'" John Cottee said.