Shorter Shopping Season Means A More Intense Scramble

Yolanda Curtis
December 2, 2019

There are two types of people in this world: people who think that the Thanksgiving dinner (and a strategic cup of coffee at 10 pm) serve as fuel for a Black Friday race centered on malls and people who adopt a more objective attitude all their Black Friday shopping in the comfort of their sofa. According to Adobe Analytics, sales surpassed $4 billion for the first time, reaching $4.2 billion by midnight - a 14.5% increase over a year ago.

Traffic at stores fell 2.1% on Black Friday from a year ago, according to preliminary figures from RetailNext.

USA shoppers made more purchases online on Black Friday than in the mall - hurting traffic and sales at brick-and-mortar stores, according to data that offered a glimpse into what is still one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

The National Retail Federation, the nation's largest retail trade group, baked the shorter season into its forecast, but it says the real drivers will be the job market.

As the clock ticks down to the official kick-off the holiday shopping season, data from Deloitte's 2019 pre-Thanksgiving pulse survey showed most shoppers are planning to spend over the upcoming weekend.


"Consumers are growing exhausted of the retail store rat race - finding a parking spot, navigating the crowds, battling the cold, and ultimately finding deals often suboptimal to online offers", Bacon said. Still, it expects online sales will reach $143.7 billion, up 14.1% from last year's holiday season.

This year, 39 percent of online purchases were made from smartphones, a 21 percent increase from last year.

"This has been a really good start", said Rod Sides, vice chairman and leader of USA retail and distribution practice at Deloitte LLP.

Spot checks on the ground showed there were fewer shoppers this year as retail chains started offering discounts earlier than usual to make up for a shorter holiday season this year. Costco.com experienced "intermittent slow load and transaction times" starting late evening on Wednesday, according to Catchpoint.

It's not known why we now call this famous day of deals Black Friday, but one theory is that it could be a reference to the "black ink" on the balance sheets (as opposed to being in the red) from the massive profits the retailers would rake in on the day. The attention is now shifting to mall stores Friday. Many people buy things online, only to head to the store to pick them up. Analysts blame at least part of that on the U.S.


"We still have the same amount of money to spend regardless of whether the season is longer or shorter", he said.

As for the shortened calendar, she prefers it.

"We plan this every year", said Eugene Boyer, Black Friday shopper, "We people watch, we have our regular stops that we always hit, and we shop by sales but sometimes we just go in and browse".

"There is really not much of a crowd to fight", she said.


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