WEST LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Retailers are concerned that bargain-hunting shoppers may be growing increasingly aggressive when it comes to the start of the Christmas shopping season.
KNX 1070′s John Brooks reports local stores are boosting security ahead of what could be a rowdy – and record-setting – Black Friday.
Analysts are predicting a 3.1 percent jump in sales from over a year ago when stores open the day after – or even as early as the night of – the Thanksgiving holiday next week.
Shoppers have already begun camping out at one Best Buy store location in El Cajon – the earliest that store managers say they have ever seen a line form.
Chaos ensued last November after one woman used pepper spray on fellow shoppers as store employees unveiled an Xbox display. About 20 people were treated at the scene for minor injuries.
Police have yet to file charges against Elizabeth Macias, 33, whose attorneys say acted in self-defense during the melee.
This year, the store has hired 27 additional security guards – four of them armed – to be on hand when the shopping surge begins at 8:00 p.m. Thanksgiving night.
One woman said retailers have an obligation to protect their customers.
“Because they’re profiting from it, and they’re advertising, and they’re drawing those people there,” she said.
Los Angeles Police Department officers also plan on beefing up patrols in parking lots at several shopping centers next week, with officers on bikes, a mounted horse patrol, and even regular fly-overs by police helicopters.
Thursday evening, CBS2 and KCAL9 reporter Amanda Burden went in search of people camping out early. They weren’t hard to find.
Steven Ortega, a hardcore shopper told her, “We’re trying to get in line first to get the great TVs.”
Stephanie Lopez was on line for the savings. “You save a lot of money on things…things I’ve wanted the whole year.”
They didn’t start camping out today. They told Burden they actually started camping out outside a Best Buy in Los Feliz last Saturday.
Store Manager Jeff Cox echoes what the store managers in El Cajon reported. People have never camped out this early. “We look forward to Black Friday every year. But this is the soonest ever in my history.”
Some customers find the camping out strategy a bit much. Said Nikolai Aramov, “I think it’s way too early. I think it’s ridiculous!”
But Lopez says the only thing that is ridiculous is how much money she will save. “Maybe it’s crazy, but the amount of money we’re saving? That is crazy!”