Black Friday has pretty much given way to Gray Thursday these days, and while I don’t advocate ditching Thanksgiving dinner for shopping, it’s still good to have a plan in place. The older I get, the more I gravitate toward shopping local, but sometimes you just need a bunch of discount sweaters or cheap Christmas decorations. No judgment.
If you’re trying to be efficient and hit as many places — and deals — as possible there are some places around Charlotte that stand out. Variety is important, but so is proximity. Charlotte is too sprawling for you to drive all around town from shopping center to shopping center looking for a bargain.
This is my go-to spot for Black Friday shopping. Even when I lived in SouthPark, I would make the trek over here. Luckily, I live only 1-3 miles from all these places now. Carolina Place Mall beats SouthPark on Black Friday for me because its four department stores — JCPenney, Sears, Macy’s and Belk — have better deals. Keep it real: Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus aren’t discounters. If you can’t find what you want here, there’s a Dick’s Sporting Goods, Home Depot, TJ Maxx, Toys R Us and Best Buy across the road. And if that’s still not enough, head 2.5 miles down South Boulevard to Carolina Pavilion. You’ll find Kohl’s, Target, Old Navy, Bed Bath & Beyond, Nordstrom Rack, HH Gregg and many more. You’re welcome.
Hours: Carolina Place opens at 6 p.m. Thursday.
(2) Concord Mills
The only reason this isn’t No. 1 is because Concord Mills is an outlet mall and the true value of deals are a little harder to decipher than those at traditional stores because of that. Still, there’s no doubting the off-price brands will be offering some eye-popping deals, and there are hundreds of options around here. Just be prepared for a horrific scene parking.
Hours: Opens at 6 p.m. Thursday and doesn’t close until 9:30 p.m. Friday.
SouthPark gets a lot of points for its ambience. It’s a fun place to visit, and there’s a decent bit of parking. I prefer to shop here about a week after Black Friday. The mall has more specialty and upscale retailers who don’t need to discount as heavily. Don’t forget about Barnes & Noble, HomeGoods, DSW and Michael’s, which are all nearby, but not actually at the mall. The biggest complaint I have about this area for Black Friday shopping is there’s no convenient Target or Walmart.
Hours: 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. Thursday-Friday and reopens at 6 a.m. Friday.
(4) Steele Creek
Two years ago, this area of town wouldn’t have even been on the list. My how times have changed with the addition of Charlotte Premium Outlets and a surging Rivergate. You’ll have time to shop the outlet stores and then head over to Rivergate on South Tryon for the Super Target, Best Buy, Old Navy, Home Depot or Bath & Bodyworks.
Hours: Charlotte Premium Outlets opens 6 p.m. Thursday and closes 10 p.m. Friday.
(5) Northlake Mall
This is still a premium mall in Charlotte for a reason. You’ll find all the staples (thank goodness for malls with Great American Cookies shops), and department stores Belk, Dillard’s and Macy’s. You’re also not far from other north Charlotte shopping options mentioned below.
Hours: 6 p.m. to midnight Thursday. Reopens 6 a.m. Friday.
This isn’t the prettiest area of town, but the retail heart of Matthews on Independence Boulevard has a lot to offer. Sycamore Commons houses Best Buy, Old Navy, Lowe’s, Bed Bath & Beyond and Dick’s Sporting Goods. Nearby Windsor Square has a Kohl’s, JC Penney and Sam’s Club. Target is just across the street as well.
(7) Blakeney Shopping Center
For those deep in south Charlotte, Blakeney is a good option if you don’t want to make the hike to a mall or outlet center. Target and Old Navy will probably have the best deals, but there are smaller retailers that usually discount, such as Victoria’s Secret and Banana Republic, that will have some bargains.
(8) Birkdale Village
Huntersville’s premier shopping destination, Birkdale Village, is a reasonably good place to visit on Black Friday, especially if you’re looking for a delicious place to eat after you’ve worked up your appetite with retail therapy. (Seriously, go to Smoke Modern BBQ or Red Rocks Cafe.) Big retailers include Dick’s Sporting Goods, Gap and Barnes & Noble, and smaller brands include Williams-Sonoma, Janie and Jack, Bath & Bodyworks and American Eagle Outfitters.
Pro tip: Go to the Birkdale website, they’re offering a chance at a $500 shopping spree if you join the email list.
These two shopping centers are close enough to make the drive between reasonable, and they offer enough difference to make it worth it. Stonecrest has Target, ULTA Beauty and Gamestop. Arboretum is home to Walmart, Bed Bath & Beyond, Barnes & Nobles, The Children’s Place and Gap. Both have a Michael’s.
(10) Northcross Shopping Center
Another good option if you’re on the north end of town. Target, Kohl’s, Lowe’s, Staples, Marshalls, HomeGoods and Hallmark offer enough variety for all the people on your list.
Best Buy, Target, Marshalls and West Elm offer some options for shoppers close to Uptown. The big downside? Just remember how bad parking is on a normal day.