By the TimesLedger Staff
Queens Center Mall in Elmhurst and other borough retail centers welcomed thousands of customers, some of whom shopped for more than 12 hours, for the nation’s biggest Black Friday yet.
“It’s good. It’s like a tradition,” said 42-year-old Rego Park resident Shirley Xu, who was navigating the mall, at 90-15 Queens Blvd., midday Friday. “Even my son — he is 8 years old — he is like, ‘Oh! Black Friday!’”
The strong holiday sales showing at stores throughout Queens echoed what the National Retail Federation found across the nation. The trade association said Americans spent an average of $423 over the weekend, an increase from $398 last year. Shoppers at stores and websites also increased to 247 million shoppers from last year’s 226 million. The number of shoppers nationwide marked a new record.
In addition to being an indicator of the economy’s strength, consumer spending accounts for about two-thirds of America’s gross national product.
Twin sisters Claudia and Patricia Sena, of Glendale, said at 11 a.m. Friday they had been at the Queens Center Mall since 9 p.m. Thanksgiving Night for the mall’s midnight opening.
“We’re not leaving until the mall closes,” Patricia Sena said.
Customers were also ample at the Queens Place Mall a short walk away, at 88-01 Queens Blvd. in Elmhurst. Aisha Rehman, 43, of Jamaica, had started shopping at 6 a.m. and acquired four huge bags of items plus two large appliances by midday.
“I bought a lot of things,” said Rehman, who does not celebrate Christmas but goes every year on Black Friday for the deals. “I have six kids.”
Crowds were more typical of an average holiday season shopping day on the south side of the Long Island Expressway at the Rego Center Mall, at 95-25 Queens Blvd. in Rego Park.
Aabida Musadeq, 21, of Jackson Heights, said she began shopping with her friend at 6 a.m. to beat the crowds, but found there was not much of a contest.
“It seemed like there weren’t as many people out there this year,” Musadeq said. “The lines weren’t there like they usually are.”
While store managers on Steinway Street in Astoria said they could not compete with the malls in Elmhurst Black Friday morning, by the early afternoon there were long lines and crowds inside several chain stores like New York & Co., Bath & Body Works and Express as well as local clothing store Prima Donna.
Heredy Pilarte, store manager at the jewelry store Jewel Licious, at 30-90 Steinway St., said she was doing well but decided not to open at 8 a.m. like she had last year.
“They leave the small businesses for last,” she said of shoppers.
In what has become a sad annual event, the Shops at Atlas Park, at 80-00 Cooper Ave. in Glendale, had another dismal Black Friday shopping day. The only crowd at 1 p.m. consisted largely of teenage girls and their parents going to see “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2.”
“We walked around this mall for a little bit, but there isn’t really much to buy here,” said moviegoer Karen Foley. “We did our shopping at Queens Center this morning at like 9 a.m.”
Shoppers strolled along Jamaica Avenue, some carrying bags, others toting giant TVs on their shoulders.
David Akiba, owner of DJ Electronics, at 165-25 Jamaica Ave., said tablets, iPads, iPods, TVs and cameras seemed to be the hot sellers this year.
“People are coming in, but they are not buying too much,” Akiba said. “I mean, they are buying but they are looking for better deals, they are shopping around too much.”
At the Bay Terrace Shopping Center, at 212-45 26th Ave. in Bayside, several security guards said that while 2012 was not their busiest year, there were more shoppers than last year.
“There really isn’t some big hot item this year,” said Great Neck, L.I., resident Christine Cook, who was shopping with her mother Janet. “We just wanted to see the sales on the clothing.”
The Shops of College Point, at 135-05 20th Ave., saw typical Black Friday crowds. Best Buy and Target had many shoppers eager to pick up deals on TVs and other electronics.
“Why am I here? I’m not so sure,” joked Anthony Guidi, who came to Target with his wife and 10-year-old son. “We do this every year.”
Phil Corso, Rebecca Henely, Steve Mosco and Christina Santucci contributed to this story.
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4564.