What happened to the long lines, large crowds?

Today is Black Friday – and that typically means long lines and large crowds as people rush to discover great deals on holiday shopping.

However, it was a quiet and rainy morning outside the Best Buy in Crabtree Valley Mall – and also quiet inside the mall.

“This was not what I expected,” said one shopper who braved the rain to find bargains – and found short lines and empty aisles. Most shoppers told WRAL News they were pleasantly surprised by the lack of crowds.

Why was Black Friday quieter this year?

Could the lack of crowds be solely attributed to heavy rain this morning? Or maybe inflation has caused people to tighten their budgets?

Could it be because ‘Black Friday’ deals have started to last all week or even all month in some places, lessening the impact of the day itself?

‘Black Friday’ watered down by month-long sales instead of door busting

“I think it’s accurate to say that online sales now account for as much as 40% of Black Friday sales,” said Scott Rankin, principal and national consumer and retail strategy leader at KPMG US.

Online shopping is gaining popularity over in-person deals

At Best Buy, a large pile of boxes marked as online orders proved that people had pre-ordered their deals on the Best Buy website and could now arrive at leisure to pick up their items.

Online shopping was already growing in popularity before 2020, and the pandemic pushed online shopping into overdrive. Online sales were already increasing before the pandemic. In 2019, shoppers spent more than $600 billion online, up nearly 15% from the previous year, according to the Commerce Department.

“Black Friday has definitely transitioned more into a digital affair in the last five years,” said Neil Saunders, retail analyst and managing director at GlobalData Retail. “The focal point is no longer the single day. It is an event spread over several days.”

Inflation takes a toll on holiday shopping

Against today’s economic backdrop, the National Retail Federation — the largest retail trade group — expects holiday sales growth to slow to a range of 6% to 8%, from a brisk 13.5% growth a year ago.

Adobe Analytics expects online sales to rise 2.5% from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31, a slowdown from last year’s 8.6% pace, which was higher even though shoppers were still hesitant to return to brick-and-mortar stores.

Analysts consider the five-day Black Friday weekend, which includes Cyber ​​Monday, a key barometer of shoppers’ willingness to spend, especially this year. The two-month period between Thanksgiving and Christmas represents about 20% of the retail industry’s annual sales.

Small Business Saturday instead of Black Friday

With Black Friday seemingly losing steam, is there potential for more people to start focusing on Small Business Saturday? Small Business Saturday was created to encourage consumers to shop local, allowing local businesses to share in some of the Christmas revenue that larger stores enjoy.

Downtown Cary has a walkable shopping area with tons of unique shops and local goods,

WRAL Out & About has created a Christmas gift guide with all kinds of heartfelt gift ideas – from food to wine to gift cards to locally made crafts.

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