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Expert explains why less people are Black Friday shopping in-person

Is this the last Black Friday?
Posted at 10:25 PM, Nov 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-26 09:40:08-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The days of crazy lines, crowded malls and short-term deals may be gone forever. Holiday shopping is now starting much earlier than Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday.

"Black Friday is still predicted to be the number one shopping day of the year, but those days are not as important as they used to be," Charles Lindsey, an associate professor at the University at Buffalo School of Management, said, "We’re seeing firms, retailers, start earlier and earlier, both in terms of putting holiday merchandise out there and also in terms of launching their best deals and promotions. Things have become more diffuse over the holiday season."

Lindsey said in-person shopping on Thanksgiving and Black Friday was declining before the pandemic.

"It started with a grass roots consumer movement if you will. Consumers being concerned about stores being open on Thanksgiving," Lindsey said.

He said customers were concerned about employees working on the holiday. He said online shopping also increased.

"This has to do with what we see as the increase in online shopping and the fact that that in store dollar isn’t as important as it used to be because now there is an alternative that is mainstream," Lindsey said.

Lindsey said pandemic caused those trends to accelerate. Now, more stores than ever are operating on limited hours.

"If you think about it, it’s the best of both worlds. Firms have another outlet through which consumers can purchase goods and services and shop and so on and so forth while at the same time not requiring employees to come in on Thanksgiving," Lindsey said.

But despite the decrease in in-person shopping, experts project there will be more money spent this year than last.

"We’re looking at a nice double-digit increase. 9-10% to 11% increase total holiday spending relative to last year. That’s good news for retailers both large and small," Lindsey said.