Black Friday 2011 Expected to Draw 150 Million Shoppers

Big box stores opening in the wee hours of the morning on Friday will be no place for the agoraphobics among us.

With 152 million shoppers expected to be out and about and online on Black Friday, stores are sure to be jammed with people looking for the latest and greatest deals on everything from e-readers to toys.

The National Retail Federation estimates the number of Black Friday shoppers will be up from 138 million last year.

According to the survey, 74 million people say they will definitely hit the stores and another 77 million are waiting to see if the bargains are worth braving the cold and the crowds.

“Though many retailers are already touting select Black Friday ads, there’s no doubt we’ll all be blown away by what retailers still have in their bag of tricks for shoppers,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay in a press release.

“We fully expect to see excited shoppers as early as midnight at stores around the country, as many holiday shoppers would rather stay up all night to take advantage of retailers’ Black Friday deals rather than set their alarm to wake up the next morning.”

The wait won’t be long for some retailers: the Outlets at Loveland and Toys “R” Us/Babies “R” Us at Front Range Village plan to open before the turkey has even had a chance to settle.

All outlet stores will open at 9 p.m. as will Toys “R” Us/Babies “R” Us at Front Range Village in Fort Collins. Walmart’s deals will start at 10.

Then at midnight a whole host of stores fling open their doors, several hours earlier than in year’s past.

For the first time, NRF asked shoppers how they plan to keep track of retailers’ holiday sales

and promotions announcements. Half will search the circulars, about a third will watch holiday commercials and one quarter will go to coupon and 32 percent will specifically keep track of the email coupons they receive from retailers.

“Social media will play a big role in how shoppers follow company sales announcements this holiday season,” said Phil Rist, Executive Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, BIGresearch. “From Facebook to Twitter and even group buying sites, ‘social’ retailers may be rewarded this season in terms of additional holiday sales.”

For those eschewing big box stores on Friday, Fort Collins-based Be Local is offering Plaid Friday, a collective of small, independent retailers promoting buying locally and shopping at local stores.