Black Friday: A two-day affair

By Associated Press 9:34am, November 28, 2014 - Updated 2:49pm, November 28, 2014
Shoppers search for doorbusters during on Black Friday at Macy's. (John Amis/AP)
The traditional kickoff to the holiday shopping season has become a two-day affair, with more stores opening before people put down their turkey legs on Thanksgiving.

There's good reason for the creep; businesses know shoppers will only spend so much, and they want the first crack at grabbing those holiday dollars. Still, millions of Americans are expected to head out in search of steep discounts today, the traditional start to the annual shopping binge.

The National Retail Federation expects holiday sales to grow 4.1 percent to $616.9 billion - the highest increase since 2011.

The holiday shopping season is a make-or-break time for many retailers, which can get as much as 20 percent of their annual sales during the time. Already, retailers have resorted to steep discounting to lure shoppers.

As far as getting the best bargain, it may already be too late. Analysis of sales data and store circulars by two research firms says the hottest deals of the season may have been on Thanksgiving.

Mall reports brisk business late Thanksgiving night

A lot of Americans seem willing to head out to the malls, right after Thanksgiving dinner.

The Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, says it drew 100,000 customers between 5 p.m. yesterday and 1 a.m. today. A spokesman says traffic slowed down after 2 a.m., but it's been picking up again today. And mall officials are still hoping to top last year's total of 230,000 Thursday-to-Friday visitors.

One shopper at a mall in Aurora, Illinois, this morning said she thinks people are feeling more confident about the economy this year. But Kimberly States said she still plans to spend about the same amount -- or maybe less -- on Christmas gifts compared with last year.

Best Black Friday deals found online

By Amy Cherry 9:22am, November 28, 2014
You don't necessarily have to leave your house to find the best deals on Black Friday.

WDEL's Amy Cherry reports.

Click here to listen

Black Friday is more than just one day now and the types of deals you can get are changing.

"So it used to be things like, 'You can get this TV for $100 off, and now it's you can get this TV for $50 off plus a $100 gift card," said Mir Kamin, the shopping maven behind the blog Want Not.

Kamin tells WDEL "bonus deals" are big this year.

"So we're seeing a lot of deals like that on televisions, laptops, tablets have been big for a few years so now laptops are kind of having a resurgence of deals, lots of gaming stuff, game systems for the kids," she said.

But for the adults wanting an Apple smartwatch, you'll have to wait until next year. Droid fans are in luck.

"The LG watch, for Android devotees, I'm seeing a lot of deals on that whether it's a bonus deal where you get a gift card back or it's $100 off from what it normally is," said Kamin.

She adds -- don't deal with the emotional stress that goes with shopping on Thanksgiving night or Black Friday--stay at home and find the same deals with free shipping.

"I don't think there's anything that is going to be a bigger deal in stores...that you can get online whether it's on Black Friday or the following week or close to the holiday, I'm just not seeing anything that merits that kind of commitment," she said.

She recommends being vigilant and check your favorite shopping apps on your phone several times a day so you don't miss a good sale.

You're invited to Wilmington's Small Business Saturday

By Frank Gerace 2:40pm, November 28, 2014 - Updated 2:49pm, November 28, 2014
What comes after Black Friday in Wilmington? Small Business Saturday, and you're invited.

Will Minster with Downtown Visions tells WDEL News the annual Jaycees Christmas parade is just the start of the festivities.

"Following that up, then we run into where we have Santa going around to three businesses downtown, all around the downtown area--Al's Sporting Goods is one, Ninth Street Book Shop is another, and Jerry's Art-O-Rama, so people have a lot of opportunity to stay after the parade and check out all the small businesses," says Minster.

Minster says American Express started Small Business Saturday back in 2010.

"'Cause Black Friday seemed to end up being mostly about big businesses and big-box, so American Express saw that opportunity to really market the small businesses, which is the majority of of the American Express merchants," says Minster.

Wilmington's take on the event also includes post-parade music and a light show at the Grand Opera House and a rock concert at World Cafe Live at the Queen.

Growers grateful for higher Christmas tree prices

By Associated Press 9:34am, November 28, 2014 - Updated 7:00pm, November 28, 2014
Christmas trees sit covered in snow on the family-run Howell Tree Farm, Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014, in Cumming, Iowa. After several tough years, the nation’s Christmas-tree growers are happy to see higher prices, but customers shouldn’t worry too much.
After several tough years, the nation's Christmas tree growers are happy to see higher prices, but customers shouldn't worry too much.

Any price increase shouldn't be enough to dampen their holiday cheer.

Bryan Ostlund, executive director of the Salem, Oregon-based Pacific Northwest Tree Association, says growers this year will get about $20 for an average tree. That's a couple dollars more than last year.

But Ostlund says the price paid to growers is only one of many factors in what a tree actually costs at a lot. Consumers might end up paying just a little more.

John Tillman, a grower in southern Washington, says it's a relief to see prices rise and supplies come closer to demand. He says many farmers quit the business because of low

City of Wilmington unveils holiday parking policy

By Frank Gerace 10:18am, November 28, 2014
'Tis the season to shop for the holidays, and the City of Wilmington is hoping to attract you to its downtown and riverfront areas with free parking in spaces normally regulated by meters.

From Black Friday through New Year's Day, you'll only have to pay to park in a metered space downtown or along the riverfront between 8 AM and noon each day.

From noon to 8 the next morning, parking in those spaces is free.

The city reminds you that "downtown" means the area bordered by Second, Twelfth, French and Washington Streets, and that even during free parking hours, you're expected to observe all other regulations, including posted time limits.

UPDATE: Funeral Monday for UD student killed in crash

By Kelli Steele 9:45am, November 28, 2014 - Updated 7:00pm, November 28, 2014
Alexis DeFrancesco
A 22-year-old University of Delaware senior fashion merchandising major killed in a car crash in Newark last Sunday, will be laid to rest on Monday.

Alexis DeFrancesco of Dover was killed Sunday, November 23 after the car she was in was hit by a red light-runner south of Newark; she was a passenger in the car driven by her boyfriend, 18-year-old Alec Clark of Wilmington, when the Nissan Altima was hit in the passenger side by a Nissan Pathfinder as Clark was turning from eastbound Route 40 onto northbound Brookmont Drive.

In a news release earlier this week, the university said DeFrancesco was scheduled to finish her studies in December and graduate next spring.

A viewing will be held Sunday from 6 to 9 p.m. at Torbert Funeral Chapels on Lebanon Road in Dover.

A Mass of Christian Burial is scheduled to be held from 12 to 1 p.m. Monday at Immaculate Conception Church on Main Street in Marydel, Maryland; interment will follow at Sharon Hills Memorial Park in Dover.

The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donors make contributions to the Dover High School AFJROTC program or to a charity of their choice.

Spanier-Freeh lawsuit ordered back to county court

By Associated Press 3:23pm, November 28, 2014
A federal judge says former Penn State president Graham Spanier's defamation suit against former FBI director Louis Freeh must start with a local judge.

U.S. District Judge Malachy Mannion on Wednesday ordered the case back to Centre County. He says he can't determine whether federal court is the proper jurisdiction before an actual complaint is filed.

Spanier's attorneys last year filed notice in Centre County court that they intend to sue Freeh. Spanier previously won the right to postpone a lawsuit until he defends himself on criminal charges in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

Freeh criticized Spanier's handling of the scandal in a report commissioned by the university.

In July, Freeh's attorneys got the case moved to federal court, in part because he's not a Pennsylvania resident.

Shooting is New Castle's 1st homicide in 15 years

By Tom Lehman 2:18pm, November 28, 2014 - Updated 4:26pm, November 28, 2014
New Castle police have identified the 18-year-old man was fatally shot on Wednesday in the city's first homicide in 15 years.

Senior Lt. Adam P. Brams said Malik Watson was shot in the chest Wednesday about a half-mile from his home. He died at a local hospital.

Brams said police have a person of interest, but would not provide more details on the identity of that individual.

New Castle's last homicide was in 1999, which he described as domestic-related.

DSP: Missing Millsboro woman found dead

By Frank Gerace 4:53am, November 28, 2014 - Updated 9:22am, November 28, 2014
Mary "Lorraine" Lappa
State police say investigators found the body of an elderly Millsboro woman in a tributary of Rehoboth Bay.

Police issued a Gold Alert for 68-year-old Mary "Lorraine" Lappa after neighbors reported her missing Wednesday night.

She was supposed to be traveling to New Castle County to spend Thanksgiving with relatives, but the neighbors found Lappa's car still parked in her driveway, and her keys and cell phone still in her house when the neighbors came over to turn some lights on.

The neighbors notified Lappa's family in the Wilmington area, and called police when they learned she'd never arrived.

A nearby resident who was helping with the investigation found Lappa's body in the water near the Creeks End development, where she lived.

The state Division of Forensic Science is investigating, but police don't suspect foul play.

Families asked to host visitors for pope's US trip

By Associated Press 10:06am, November 28, 2014
Pope Francis (WDEL/file)
Residents of the Philadelphia area are being asked to show some brotherly love to those coming to see Pope Francis next year.

To help accommodate the expected crowds, officials hope more than 10,000 families will volunteer to host visitors in their spare bedrooms.

Francis plans to attend the Roman Catholic-sponsored World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in September. Area hotel rooms are filling up fast, and event planners have even looked at hotels 90 miles away in Baltimore.

So far, more than 100 families have registered to welcome guests through the company Homestay, which is coordinating the effort.

Event organizers estimate up to 15,000 people will attend the conference, which focuses on strengthening family bonds.

More than 1.5 million pilgrims are expected for the pope's two public appearances.

Longevity, icon status get toys into hall of fame

By Associated Press 10:09am, November 28, 2014
Before the holiday wish lists and mad buying rush each year comes a dose of nostalgia with the National Toy Hall of Fame's annual picks for enshrinement.

Bubbles, little green army men and the Rubik's Cube were inducted this year. But is the road to such playtime immortality really all fun and games?

According to the judges, well, yes.

Sure, there's occasional lobbying for a favorite. But judges say any real pressure is nostalgia driven, a matter of balancing head versus heart.

A group of historians and curators picks 12 finalists and sends them to experts in education, play and psychology to rank.

Only toys with longevity, icon status and the ability to inspire kids are seriously considered.

Reagan's explosive growth threatens Dulles Airport

By Associated Press 9:47am, November 28, 2014
Dulles Airport (Photo/Wikipedia)
Washington Dulles National Airport is in trouble.

Sometime in 2015, more people will travel through Reagan National Airport than Dulles, which is 14 times the size of National.

Virginia leaders are troubled by the development and say it threatens the financial viability of Dulles. A recent study shows that Dulles generated more than $1.2 billion in tax revenue and nearly $10 billion in labor income.

Local officials say the problem is Congress, which has relaxed federal rules restricting flights at National to facilitate nonstop service to various home states.

That helped fuel explosive growth at National, which has led to a sharp rise in noise complaints from Arlington County residents and overcrowded concourses that have airport officials scrambling to find more space at the airport, where resources are strained.

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