What happened to the long lines, big crowds?

Today is Black Friday – and typically, that means long lines and big crowds as people rush to discover great deals on holiday purchases.

However, it was a quiet and rainy morning outside the Best Buy at Crabtree Valley Mall – and calm inside the mall as well.

“This is not what I expected,” said one shopper, who braved the rain to find great deals–and found short lines and empty aisles. Most shoppers told WRAL News they were pleasantly surprised by the lack of crowds.

Why was Black Friday more calm this year?

Could the lack of crowds be purely attributed to heavy rain this morning? Or perhaps inflation has people tightening their budgets?

Could it be because ‘Black Friday’ deals have begun lasting all week or even all month at some locations, lessening the impact of the day itself?

‘Black Friday’ watered down by month-long sales, instead of door busters

“I think it’s accurate to say that online sales now account for as much as 40% of Black Friday sales,” said Scott Rankin, principal and national consumer and retail strategy leader with KPMG US.

Online shopping gaining popularity, rather than in-person deals

At Best Buy, a large pile of boxes marked as online orders proved people had ordered their deals on the Best Buy website ahead of time, and could now arrive at leisure to pick up their items.

Online shopping was already gaining in popularity prior to 2020, and the pandemic pushed online shopping into overdrive. Online sales were rising even before the pandemic. In 2019, shoppers spent more than $600 billion online, up nearly 15% from the previous year, according to the Commerce Department.

“Black Friday has definitely transitioned more into a digital affair in the past five years,” said Neil Saunders, retail analyst and managing director at GlobalData Retail. The focal point is not that single day anymore. It’s an event spread out over several days.

Inflation taking a toll on holiday shopping

Against today’s economic backdrop, the National Retail Federation — the largest retail trade group — expects holiday sales growth will slow to a range of 6% to 8%, from the blistering 13.5% growth of a year ago.

Adobe Analytics expects online sales to be up 2.5% from Nov. 1 through Dec. 31, a slowdown from last year’s 8.6% pace, which was higher even though shoppers were still uncertain about returning to physical stores.

Analysts consider the five-day Black Friday weekend, which includes Cyber ​​Monday, a key barometer of shoppers’ willingness to spend, particularly this year. The two-month period between Thanksgiving and Christmas represents about 20% of the retail industry’s annual sales.

Small Business Saturday instead of Black Friday

With Black Friday seemingly losing steam, is there potential for more people to begin focusing on Small Business Saturday? Small Business Saturday was created to encourage consumers to Shop Local, allowing local businesses to get a share of some of the holiday shopping revenue enjoyed by larger stores.

Downtown Cary has a walkable shopping district with tons of unique shops and local goods,

WRAL Out & About has created a Holiday Gift Guide with all kinds of ideas for heartfelt gifts – from food to wine to gift cards to locally-made crafts.


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