Black Friday Early Birds Find US Stores Less Crowded, Retail News, ET Retail

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CHICAGO: With many large U.S. retailers opening their doors to shoppers on Friday at 5 a.m., early risers have ventured into cold weather to shop for Christmas presents, finding stores less crowded than in the past.

The shift to online shopping, lingering fears of COVID, and smaller discounts have cleared crowds on Black Friday, the day after the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States which kicks off the year-end shopping season. Many shoppers also choose curbside pickup rather than venturing inside.

“What a lot of customers do is drive – they don’t even walk into the store. I think that’s one of the reasons he seems calm,” Ian Korolenko, 29, a Hoover vacuum cleaner salesman Target asked for help. Black friday.

“But I also think a lot of these stores are doing their Black Friday deals earlier in the week now, and a lot of them are live now.”

Francisco Martinez, 22, a delivery driver, was one of more than 100 people standing outside a Walmart supermarket in Chicago’s Kilbourn Park neighborhood before 5 a.m. in 20 degrees Fahrenheit (-7 degrees Celsius). ).

“I want to get a 65-inch Element TV – it’s $ 350 off,” said Martinez, who wore three layers of clothing. “I think I’ll have it – it’s not as crowded as it was a few years ago.”

While people lined up, a Walmart employee handed out coupons for items like Apple AirPods and Gateway watches and laptops. Daniella Rangel, 19, arrived at work at 2 a.m. to restock and get ready for the morning rush.

As online shopping took off, Black Friday crowds declined, especially in 2020, when people were still unvaccinated and worried about COVID-19.

Some buyers worry that a continued supply chain blockage will prevent retailers from stocking wanted items such as Hoverboard scooters, Nerf toys, Oculus Quest 2 headsets, AirPods Pro headphones, and MacBook Air laptops. .

Walmart, Best Buy and Target this year did not require shoppers who have been vaccinated to wear masks, but some indoor malls have maintained existing mask requirements.

“People are looking to get back to normal,” said Rod Sides, US retail leader at Deloitte. “The first birds in line and birds that have entered the store can catch the worm. “

A Deloitte survey showed that people had already spent 80-85% of their budget before Black Friday.

At 6 a.m., a Best Buy in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood was less busy.

As stores welcome holiday shoppers, some may be reassessing their security measures after high-end stores in some US cities have been the target of brazen “smash-and-grab” thefts, where masked thieves fill in. bags full of goods.

A HEALTHIER CONSUMPTION ECONOMY

U.S. consumers are entering the holiday season with full purchasing power thanks to a slew of still-sizable savings from several rounds of government pandemic relief, and now double-digit year-on-year pay increases. another as companies compete for the few workers.

Data on Wednesday showed that consumer spending rose 1.3% more than expected in October. Spending on big ticket items like automobiles pushed the overall figure up, but data also showed spending on services like travel increasing.

Online and physical retail meet just outside the store. This Black Friday, retailers like Target, Macy’s and Walmart allocated more space and workers to online pickup stations and curbside parking.

Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, has hired 150,000 vacation workers, many for those jobs. Its website allows people to book pickup times and cautions against “limited qualities” and “no gift certificates.”

Target added more than 18,000 car parking spaces, more than double the number of spaces last year.

Curbside pickup increased 92% in November compared to 2019, according to the Adobe Digital Economy Index.

As of Nov. 23, out-of-stock messages had already increased 8% from the previous week, Adobe said. For most of November, stockouts were up 261% from 2019.

Electronics – in short supply due to a global shortage of chips – had the highest levels of out-of-stock, followed by personal care, home and garden, according to Adobe.

“Instead of seeing eight boxes of TVs stacked up, you might see three or four stacks of TVs. You might see fewer bikes on the racks,” said NPD analyst Marshal Cohen.

Elver Gomez, 21, visited Best Buy at 6 a.m. to find that the Apple and Microsoft laptops he wanted for school were out of stock.

“The discounts aren’t that intriguing… it looks like this year is sold out, or not that expensive,” said Gomez, a student, who now hopes to find a few freebies before returning home.

“I won’t get what I wanted.”


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