Saturday, November 25, 2017

Black Friday Crowds Not So Bad, As Online Shopping Attracts More Holiday Consumers

Well, I picked up my toaster yesterday, and the line was around the store at my local Kohl's (below). Turns out that was mostly shoppers hunting down the "doorbuster" deals. I went back a little later and it wasn't so bad.

In any case, at LAT, "Black Friday mayhem may be a thing of the past":

Chae Woong Bae and his girlfriend had steeled themselves to brave the Black Friday shopping chaos they’d watched on TV back home in South Korea.

But when the pair arrived at 4:30 a.m. Friday at a Target in North Hollywood for their first Black Friday outing, they were the only ones in line. No one else joined the queue for an hour, ahead of the store's opening at 6 a.m.

"On the TV, we see people fighting each other, so at first, we were a little scared to come today," said a disappointed Bae, 22. "I didn't expect it to be so quiet."

Once known for frenzied crowds that jostled for deals in packed stores, Black Friday in Southern California has become a more subdued scene. The rise of e-commerce has made savings available to anyone, anywhere — at any time.

To compete with online sellers, and each other, brick-and-mortar retailers have pushed discounts days and even weeks before the day once considered the critical barometer of the holiday shopping season.

The result: Consumers said stores and malls were less packed and more relaxed. It was a welcome change for some.

"If I had walked in and there was a massive crowd, I would have walked right out," said Amanda Solomon, 25, as she shopped with her mother at the Macy's at Westfield Century City mall.

"It wouldn't be worth the savings," her mother, Irene Castaldo, 63, chimed in.

National retail chains that open on Thanksgiving have largely moved doorbuster deals to Thursday night, making Black Friday a calmer shopping experience.

To get the same type of crowd "you've got to have the same type of early-bird specials on Friday as Thursday," said Britt Beemer, chairman and founder of America's Research Group, who has tracked holiday sales trends for 30 years. "And nobody does that."

Though stores may not seem as busy on Black Friday as in years past, analysts expect holiday retail sales to jump in 2017, a result of higher consumer confidence and gains in employment and disposable income.

The National Retail Federation predicts that retail sales in November and December could total between $678.75 billion and $682 billion, up from $655.8 billion last year.