Biggest shopping day sees calm roads

By Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – The madness that is known as Black Friday wasn’t all that mad for motorists in Tupelo on Friday.
Despite it being the biggest shopping day of the year – when retailers like Walmart, Best Buy and Toys R Us boast early-bird blockbuster deals – the streets leading to The Mall at Barnes Crossing were free-flowing and uneventful, as opposed to many other years. There was not a single-fender bender on North Gloster Street on Friday and only one in a parking lot at Kohl’s Department Store.
Tupelo Police Lt. Tim Clouse said he was surprised, but pleased, with how the day went.
“The roads have been clear,” said Clouse. “No angry motorists blowing horns, no accidents, so basically no problems. This has been the calmest Black Friday that I can remember. We are glad that things have gone so smoothly.”
With stores like Toys R Us opening at 10 p.m. Thursday and others opening earlier than the traditional early morning hours, Clouse said he feels that’s why the streets were less chaotic.
“The stores staggered their opening times and some made them earlier and that helped with traffic control,” said Clouse. “Instead of people trying to all pile on Gloster at 4 or 5 a.m., most of them had been out much earlier and had gotten their shopping done.”
Parking lots in the mall area were still full for most of the day.
Consumers also noticed a calmer, more friendly shopping day.
Melody Ashford circles Black Friday on her calendar every year. She goes through a checklist before she leaves home that resembles a battle plan.
“I have to make sure I have everything I need to go into the shopping battle,” she said. “It’s usually brutal on the roads but even more brutal in the parking lots. I always have to battle for parking spots, so I drive my husband’s truck. But this year there have been no battles to fight.
“Everything has been calm and everyone cordial. That is, until you actually get into the stores, and that’s a different story.”
Janice Robertson also was shocked to see mild traffic on North Gloster Street.
“I was prepared to be sitting in the car for an hour just trying to get to the mall,” said Robertson. “I wore my comfortable shoes and clothes and everything. This is great through. It makes for a tough shopping day when you have to spend two hours trying to travel five miles then have to spend hours in line shopping. This has been a great Black Friday for me.”
The Tupelo Police helicopter circled the city throughout the morning looking for traffic jams and hang-ups but found none.
Pilot Ben Inman said he can’t remember seeing the roads so clear near the mall on Black Friday.
“Just looks like a normal day down there,” said Inman as he circled in the helicopter. “Nothing is backed up, so I don’t know if that’s good news or not since it’s supposed to be the biggest shopping day of the year.”
Contact Danza Johnson at (662) 678-1583 or danza.johnson@djournal.com.