Retailers across the region claimed a successful Black Friday weekend, with the heaviest traffic in years at area shopping malls.
Although more people than ever are doing their holiday shopping online, two of the area's biggest malls reported substantially more shoppers in their stores than on the typical weekend.
More than 95,000 people went through Cherry Hill Mall on Black Friday alone, said Lisa Wolstromer, the mall's team marketing director. That compares with the usual Friday mall crowd of about 25,000 shoppers, she said.
King of Prussia mall, the area's biggest shopping center, reported a 10 percent traffic increase for the first official weekend of the holiday season.
"It looks like the Thanksgiving weekend, Thursday through Monday, was good for retail, although not in the traditional sense," said Bill Park, a partner at financial consultant Deloitte & Touche L.L.P. and head of the firm's retail consulting group for the Philadelphia region. "Shopping habits have changed, largely due to the Internet.
"While mall traffic was good overall, there were only a few cases of long lines," Park said. "Many opted to order that 'must have' gift online in the comfort of their own home."
Indeed, online sales reached $3.11 billion on Cyber Monday, an online shopping record for any one day, according to research firm comScore. The shopping surge on mobile devices and computers the Monday after Thanksgiving demonstrates the changing shopping habits of some consumers.
Not Sumera Rembert, 43, of Woodbury, who went on a shopping tear for holiday gifts in New Jersey and Philadelphia from Wednesday to Sunday.
While camped in a tent outside the Best Buy across from Deptford Mall, she hit Macy's on Wednesday night, Best Buy, Target, and back to Macy's on Thursday night; then it was Philadelphia Premium Outlets, Philadelphia Mills Mall, and Atlantic City Premium Outlets - all on Friday afternoon.
She was still going strong on Saturday afternoon, shopping at Gloucester Premium Outlets in Blackwood, N.J., and J.C. Penney at Deptford Mall. She rounded out the holiday weekend online, shopping Sunday morning to get a jump on Cyber Monday deals.
She estimated her tab for the five shopping days at more than $2,700.
"Black Friday is the only time of the year I get together with family and friends, and we make it a weekend event," said Rembert, who works for a hospital. "We had fun."
Kathy Smith, director of marketing and business development at King of Prussia, which is owned by Simon Property Group, said the bump in traffic was the "result of a combination of factors."
"The weather certainly played a critical role in motivating people to get out of the house to capitalize on some great deals," Smith said, "along with new store openings such as Primark last Wednesday, which attracted a lot of shoppers who were eager to explore the new brand."
Jim Malervy, director of marketing and business development at Oxford Valley Mall in Langhorne, said that at midnight on Thanksgiving night, more than 70 percent of his mall's stores were still open.
"Holiday shopping patterns have changed significantly over the past several years," said Joseph Coradino, CEO of Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust, which owns several malls in the region, including Cherry Hill and Moorestown. "The Thanksgiving opening has extended the traditional Black Friday shopping surge to last the entire weekend . . . as shoppers were coming out to our malls in droves between Thursday and Sunday."
Penny Wilson, 48, from Croydon, Bucks County, entertained relatives for the holiday. The family went out to eat for an early Thanksgiving dinner and then went shopping.
Wilson missed out on coupons that were being handed out at the Penneys at Oxford Valley Mall on Thanksgiving. From there, her family hit Michael's Crafts, Kmart, Walmart, and Kohl's - all in Bucks County.
On Black Friday, they went to the Philadelphia Mills Mall. The Wilson family stayed home and rested on Saturday and Sunday.
Wilson's daughter Kristen Palmer, 29, who was visiting from Baltimore with her husband and two young sons, bought mostly toys and clothes online, while at her mother's house.
"We did pretty good," Wilson said of the weekend shopping adventure. "There were a lot of good sales this year. The only place that there was really a long line to get in was Kohl's in Bensalem. Otherwise, everything was in and out."