With many major US retailers opening their doors to shoppers at 5 a.m. on Friday, early risers ventured out, hoping to find gifts to tuck under the Christmas tree before products sell out.
The day after the US Thanksgiving holiday, known as Black Friday, officially kicks off the year-end shopping season. In most past years, retailers have hosted ‘doorbuster’ discounts of 50 percent-or-more-off everything from clothing and toys to TVs, prompting shoppers to line up for blocks outside stores and crowd into malls to scramble for deals.
But as online shopping has taken off, Black Friday crowds have dwindled, particularly in 2020 when people were still unvaccinated and worried about Covid-19.
Regardless, early queues were expected, with some shoppers worried that an ongoing supply chain logjam might prevent retailers from stocking sought-after items such as Hoverboard scooters, Nerf toys, Oculus Quest 2 headsets, AirPods Pro earbuds, 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 kept existing mask requirements.
A report by consumer research platform Attest showed about two-thirds of 1,000 people surveyed on Nov. 13 were comfortable shopping in-person despite the ongoing pandemic.
“People are looking to get back to normal,” said Rod Sides, Deloitte’s US retail leader. “The early online birds, and the birds that went into the store, may get the worm.”
A Deloitte survey showed people had already spent 80 percent-85 percent of their budgets before Black Friday. Still, the consultancy said two-fifths of respondents would line up at stores on Black Friday between midnight and 6 a.m.
Nivia Lopez, 26, from Bolingbrook, Illinois, has already scratched perfumes and makeup from Ulta Beauty off her Christmas list, but is venturing out to Victoria’s Secret, Best Buy and Nordstrom on Black Friday. Lopez, who typically shopped on Thanksgiving before stores increasingly closed on the holiday, took advantage of early online deals.
As stores welcome holiday shoppers, some may be reevaluating their security measures after high-end stores in some US cities were targeted by brazen “smash-and-grab” robberies, where masked thieves stuff bags full of merchandise.
Online vs Standing in Line
US consumers enter the holiday season flush with spending power thanks to a still-hefty pile of savings from multiple rounds of government pandemic relief, and now double-digit year-over-year wage increases as businesses compete for scarce workers.