Black Friday still a draw despite online’s in-roads
Danita Fruge and her two adult daughters started shopping around 5 p.m. Thursday night. It’s been like that for a decade — after Thanksgiving festivities are over, they set out for some 24 hours of shopping with a few breaks in between.
Fruge and her daughters, Caryn McCabe and Kimberly Haynes, are just three of an expected 164 million Americans projected to shop in stores or online over the five-day Thanksgiving weekend — one of the biggest shopping events of the year.
But increasingly this year, the retail feast is online, with Thanksgiving on track to be one of the fastest growing retail days in online shopping history — up 29 percent over last year, according to data from Adobe Analytics.
An estimated $3.7 million in online purchases were made on Thursday, and the trend continued Friday morning. Adobe reported consumers spent $643 million online by 9 a.m., up 28 percent from the same period last year.
Not that traditionalists stayed home. The National Retail Federation predicted 116.4 million consumers would turn out on Black Friday, up from 115.7 million last year.
“Consumers feel the economy is strong because they have more money in their pockets due to tax reform and wage increases since the recession,” Ana Serafin Smith, spokeswoman for the retailers association, told the Houston Chronicle. “We think it’ll be a strong retail holiday for retailers and consumers alike.”
At the Target off the Eastex Freeway in Beaumont, Fruge’s group sported “Black Friyay” T-shirts as they wheeled a nearly full cart to the parking lot Friday morning. They needed to finish shopping by around noon, earlier than usual, because McCabe’s son had a football game that afternoon.
They said there seemed to be fewer shoppers this year, making checkout lines more bearable.
“There were a few people who were cranky in line, but that’s to be expected,” said Fruge, a Port Neches resident.
McCabe said she thought more people were staying home because a growing number of deals that previously were only available in-store have moved online.
As a result of those people staying home and shifting their focus online, Adobe Analytics forecasts Cyber Monday will be the largest shopping day this weekend and consumers will spend some $7.8 billion. It forecasts $124 billion in U.S. online sales this holiday season.
Many of those who still shop at brick and mortar locations often are doing it for the experience.
Fruge’s group is no different.
“I don’t know that I want to be out here either, but it’s tradition,” Haynes said.
After they finish shopping Friday, the three head back to Fruge’s house where on Saturday they’ll do crafts while Fruge’s husband wraps all of the Black Friday purchases.
“By the time I head home I should be completely finished preparing for Christmas,” McCabe said.
Bob Bierbaun, of Lumberton, said Black Friday shopping gives him and his daughter time to spend together.
“My daughter is in from Colorado, so it’s kind of our thing,” the Lumberton resident said. “We started last night at nine and went to Walmart and Kohl’s and we started this morning about 7:30.”
Parkdale Mall marketing director Nicole Bowen said previously that Beaumont and the surrounding communities understand that it’s important to shop at the mall, as evidenced by positive 2018 sales. Local shopping supports 1,500 jobs and generates sales tax revenue that can be reinvested into the community.
While consumer projections look relatively positive, some chains hoping to make it into the black are being hurt by questions of their stability. That, combined with money that would have been spent at since-closed stores, has left billions in sales up for grabs.
Sears has long been a destination for large appliances. But at least two local shoppers say they’re backing off because they don’t know how long the store, which closed 142 Sears and Kmart locations earlier this year, will stay open.
“I used to shop here all the time, but with the stores closing I’ve been backing off,” said Orange resident Darrell Alsandor. “All of my appliances were from Sears before, but I flooded this year and I got them from other places because I was worried Sears wouldn’t be around much longer.”
In part as a result, as much as $100 billion in sales are headed to other retailers after Sears Holding Corp.’s bankruptcy and the closure of hundreds of Toys R Us stores, Bloomberg reported earlier this week.
Haley Bruyn contributed to this report.