Black Friday “early risers” find US stores less crowded, fewer bargains

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Bargain hunters ventured out in cold weather to shop for Christmas presents on Black friday, finding the stores less crowded than in the past, as major U.S. retailers opened earlier.

A change in line, COVID fears and smaller discounts cleared crowds 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 vacuum cleaner seller asked by Target to help on Black Friday.

“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 online now.”

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

As people lined up, a Walmart employee handed out coupons for items like Apple AirPods and Gateway watches and laptops.

“I want to get a 65-inch Element TV – it’s $ 350 off,” said Martinez, who wore three layers of clothing, adding, “I think I’ll get it – there isn’t that much. people than before a few years ago. “

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.

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.

In Chicago-area stores visited by Reuters, employees and shoppers typically wore masks.

Real estate agent Kelsey Hupp, 36, shopped for years at Macy’s department store in downtown Chicago on Black Friday. The pandemic did not prevent her from maintaining this tradition.

“Chicago is pretty safe and masked and vaccinated. I got my booster so I’m not too worried about it,” she said.

Another concern this season is that a continued supply chain blockage could prevent retailers from stocking wanted items such as Hoverboard scooters, Oculus Quest 2 headsets, Nerf toys, AirPods Pro headphones, and laptops. MacBook Air.

“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.

BORDER REQUEST

U.S. consumers enter the holiday season with full purchasing power thanks to a slew of still-sizable savings from several rounds of pandemic government reliefs and double-digit wage increases as businesses battle over them. workers.

Data on Wednesday showed that consumer spending rose 1.3% more than expected in October. Bigger items like automobiles grabbed the headlines, but data also showed increased spending on services like travel.

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. Walmart gives users an hour to check out after scheduling a time to pick up orders.

Target added more than 18,000 car parking spaces, more than double the number of spaces last year. Target’s website cautions against “limited qualities” and “no rush checks.”

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

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.

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

“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, went to Best Buy at 6 a.m. just to find the Apple and Microsoft laptops he wanted out of stock.

“The discounts aren’t that intriguing. It looks like this year either they’re out of stock or the price isn’t that good,” said Gomez, a student. “I won’t get what I wanted.”

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