Before the sun comes up tomorrow, thousands will already be at Stoneridge Shopping Center, Walmart, Kohl's and other major Pleasanton stores for the official start of the holiday shopping season, known in the retail world as Black Friday.
The day after Thanksgiving is traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year and a day when stores offer their deepest discounts and biggest gimmicks to get people in the door.
The crews at Stoneridge will be ready. Aside from the individual shops, Stoneridge Shopping Center has a number of promotions scheduled for that day. The mall will officially open at 5 a.m., when Macy's opens, with Sears and JCPenney opening at 4 a.m.
"We are encouraging customers to roll out of bed and wear their holiday pajamas, sweaters or sweats in celebration of the nonprofit Pajama Program, which provides pajamas to children living in shelters throughout the Bay Area," said Carrie Williams, who is director of marketing and business development for the shopping center.
"The first 50 people to donate a pair of pajamas that day will get a bag of See's Candies from Guest Services," she added. "We will also be roaming the shopping center and randomly giving small prizes to people wearing their pajamas from 5 a.m. until 8 a.m."
Other promotions include totes for the first 200 shoppers at Guest Services that will include water, snacks, a receipt holder, store coupons and an energy drink.
Entertainment is also planned from 5 to 8 a.m. by The Fabulous Flugelhorns, a Dickens-era holiday brass group, and from 8 to 11 a.m. by the Dix Bruce Jazz Trio that will feature Christmas holiday classics.
Some of the Oakland Raiderettes also will be on hand Friday to help raise funds for the Simon Youth Foundation by selling their calendars with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the nonprofit, which helps at-risk youths realize their dream of going to college.
And possibly most important for those who are concerned about parking, a shuttle will be running in the mall parking lot from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. to take shoppers with their loads of packages from mall entrances to their cars parked far out in the lot.
Stoneridge is running a contest through its Facebook and Twitter pages where participants can enter a contest in which front row parking spaces will be given away for Black Friday.
Santa Claus got the party started early and is already greeting children and their families in the lower level courtyard to hear their wish lists and smile for photos. Particularly impressive are the oversized wrapped presents under the mall's three-story-tall tree in the center court.
The mall is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. through today. It will be closed Thanksgiving Day. Except for earlier opening hours Friday, holiday hours through Christmas will be 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., with shorter hours on Sundays and closing early on Christmas Eve. For more information, call 463-2778.
Other area stores popular for Black Friday deals include Walmart, Kohl's, Radio Shack and many more, which are also opening early on Friday.
The number of people braving the stores in the Friday, Saturday and Sunday time period after Thanksgiving is expected to be up from last year, according to a poll released today by the National Retail Federation. The industry group expects up to 134 million people to shop nationwide, compared with 128 million last year. According to the survey, about two-thirds of respondents planned to visit department, discount chain and big-box stores.
An estimated one in 10 shoppers will roll out of bed for sales between midnight and 3 a.m., according the survey. Another 29 percent will head out seeking early bird specials between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m.
On the day after Thanksgiving, all Toys R Us stores will open at midnight, five hours earlier than last year's Black Friday. A store manager said that employees are expecting the store to be busy, but customers in Black Fridays past have been well-behaved and friendly.