Professor studies shopping habits on Black Friday

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — In just a couple of days, shoppers will flood Charlotte stores, hunting down deals for Black Friday.

A local professor has spent years studying shoppers' habits and the new ways retailers are getting consumers to open up their wallets.

The research started as a classroom conversation at Winthrop University, but it turned into surveying shoppers inside the stores.

Francis Johnson will be in the sea of shoppers flooding stores Black Friday.

"For Toys R Us, I think we have to eat dinner then go get in line," Johnson said.

Winthrop University Professor Dr. Jane Thomas has been tracking Black Friday female shopping habits like Johnson's for years.

On that day, she said women never shop solo and plan which stores to hit with military precision.

"It is all about planning who is going to get in line at Walmart, who is going to go to the back of the store and get the toy, who is going to drive the getaway car," Thomas said.

"My daughter is looking on the computer right now to see what stores and what time they open, so we can try to get the bargains," said Francis.

With more store options and longer sales, retailers are beefing up efforts to get you in their doors.

"They are staggering their sales throughout the day," said Thomas.

Stores are also trying to sway customers to spend with a better experience.

"We're also seeing retailers become savvy and almost boutique-like, where they will come around and offer you food," said Thomas.

Her research shows shoppers may save more money waiting for bargains closer to Christmas, but many brave the stores every year for the experience.

"The deals are good but it's a family time and we enjoy being together," Johnson said.

Thomas will be started a new round of research at 6 a.m. Thanksgiving looking for new participants, including men, to follow.

If you are interested, send an email to thomasj@winthrop.edu.