"They wanted to go Black Friday shopping," says Phillips, 37. "I prefer to avoid it at all costs."
Her brother-in-law headed for the hunting and camping retailer Cabela's at 4 a.m., Phillips says. He came back six hours later, with tales of a checkout line stretching to the back of the huge store.
"It literally took him two hours just to get through to the register with a couple of hoodie sweaters," Phillips says. "So that just sort of ... verified the reason why I don't go out on Black Friday."
Phillips, meanwhile, did her shopping online, including finding some new Doc Marten boots for her husband. She looked first for the best price on Amazon, "and then I actually went straight to the manufacturer's website ... and I found an equally good price there, all with free shipping."
That kind of price shopping and free shipping is forcing profit margins down for retailers, says analyst Drbul. But he expects a strong holiday season nevertheless.
A big reason is that falling gas prices are putting more money in consumers' pockets.
This year, Drbul says, "has the potential to be the best retail performance since 2011."