Black Friday shoppers 'bear' with crowds; Target has a surprise hit

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Between cyber sales and Thursday store openings, is Black Friday still a big deal?

Indeed, the traditional king of the shopping hill flexed its retail muscle on the day after Thanksgiving. And a cuddly brown animal from Minneapolis-based Target became the poster child of Black Friday 2015.

Target said in a statement that iPads and gaming consoles (especially Nintendo's Wii U) were some of its biggest-selling items both online and in stores.

In the toy aisles, classics like LEGO and Barbie were strong again, as were Star Wars items.

But a 3-foot-tall teddy bear available only in stores – and only for Black Friday – seemed to steal the show. The company says the ten-dollar bear sold out at many stores, sometimes within minutes.

The teddy bear had no special name or marketing campaign. The Star Tribune notes its photo was tucked in the middle of Target's 36-page Black Friday circular.

But the newspaper's shopping blogger observed a mad dash for the bear at Target's Minnetonka store, where 15 minutes after the doors opened only the very last bear remained.

Black Friday: less important but still big

A number of retailers now make their Black Friday sales available to shoppers before Thanksgiving and many stores open their doors on Thursday evening.

Analysts tell MPR News retailers are treating the holiday shopping season more like a marathon than a sprint, which helps them manage their inventory and staffing.

Even so, the practice of lining up at the door on Friday morning is not dead yet. KSTP spoke with early risers waiting for stores at the Mall of America to open. "It's a tradition with me and my friends; we just like to come out and suffer," one told the station.

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Of course, Black Friday is no longer the only nicknamed day of retail's big week.

KSTP has a separate story on how advocates for locally owned businesses are pushing Small Business Saturday.

And Consumer Affairs reports Internet-only retailers are anticipating Cyber Monday. On last year's edition of Cyber Monday, Amazon set a new record with 43 million sales, which works out to 500 items per second, Consumer Affairs says.

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