Home > Uncategorized > Black Friday is big, but online shopping is even bigger

Black Friday is big, but online shopping is even bigger

USATODAY

 NOVEMBER 30, 2013

Despite stores’ attempts to calm the madness that generally surrounds Black Friday, there was still some fury unleashed by shoppers … and it was all caught on tape.

Hadley Malcolm, Laura Petrecca and Alistair Barr, USA TODAY6:30 p.m. EST November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving openings by some big retailers and robust online sales appear to have reduced the traditional frenzy of Black Friday shopping.

Tens of millions of Black Friday bargain hunters poured into stores from Maine to Hawaii, but so far the nation’s mega-shopping weekend has brought less frenzy as online shopping and early store openings diffused crowds.

More than a dozen major stores from Target to Toys R Us opened on Thanksgiving Day and stayed open through Black Friday. And online shopping juggernauts such as eBay and Amazon report significant increases in Thanksgiving and Black Friday sales from a year ago, proof positive that Americans are looking for online relief from retail mob scenes.

E-commerce firm ChannelAdvisor reported that client sales on eBay.com jumped 35% through noon EST on Black Friday, compared to the same holiday last year. Client sales on Amazon.com rose 25% in the same period.

“The internet is now the number one destination for shopping,” said Brent Schoenbaum, a partner in consulting giant Deloitte.

What the nation has seen so far:

– Crowds are big, but reports of violence and ugly scenes at stores are down. Walmart had more than 22 million shoppers on Thanksgiving Day — and about 10 million transactions from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. alone, says U.S. CEO Bill Simon. Sales traffic remained strong on Friday

– A record $1 billion was spent online on Thanksgiving day, according to Adobe Systems, which analyzed 180 million visits to more than 1,000 U.S. retail websites.

– Discounting started earlier in November, causing shoppers to get earlier bargains and reduce pent-up demand;

– Macy’s opened on Thanksgiving for the first time this year. In New York City, at Macy’s flagship in Herald Square, a record-breaking 15,000 people were in line for store’s 8 p.m. opening. “There was a steady stream of humanity coming through the front doors for about 12 or 13 minutes,” said CEO Terry Lundgren.

Among the serious shoppers in Florida was Debra Green. She visited the mall near her Cocoa Beach workplace three times on Friday – including a 7:30 a.m. stopover and a lunch break appearance — to shop at JCPenney, Macy’s and Dillard’s.

“I’ll bet I saved $200. But how can you say you saved when you spend?” Green said as she examined a stack of $14.99 cable knit sweaters (regular price: $29) at JCPenney. “It’s silly. It’s psychological.”

Major retailers such as Walmart and Best Buy had Black Friday deals on the latest gaming consoles from Microsoft and Sony, but supplies were low and the items sold out quickly. That left many shoppers resorting to eBay.com, where such items are often re-sold at higher prices by people who have already bought them.

“EBay is the sales channel of scarcity,” said Scot Wingo, CEO of ChannelAdvisor. “While some retailers had door-buster deals on Xbox One and PS4 consoles, eBay is one of the best places to get one now.”

Most retailers said the store crowds were less frenetic this year.

At Renaissance at Colony Park in Ridgeland, Miss., Sandra Stephens of Baton Rouge said she didn’t feel harried as she checked off her list of stops, including women’s retailer Anthropologie.

“This is the first time in a few years I’ve gone out for Black Friday,” said Stephens, who was in town visiting relatives. “It’s a good feeling to get a head start on Christmas shopping, especially when it’s not too crazy, like it is here.”

Shoppers rest on chairs on Nov. 29 at the Fashion Show mall in Las Vegas.

Shoppers rest on chairs on Nov. 29 at the Fashion Show mall in Las Vegas.  John Locher, Las Vegas Review-Journal, via AP

Overall, the National Retail Federation expects retail sales to be up 3.9% to $602 billion during the last two months of the year. That’s higher than last year’s 3.5% growth, but below the 6% pace seen before the recession.

Still, there was plenty of jostling going on among the first wave of an estimated 140 million people who will shop during the four-day holiday weekend.

Long checkout lines formed at a Target in Colma, Calif., on Black Friday morning. And hundreds waited outside a Kohl’s in American Park, Utah.

There were reports of minor brawls, including one outside a Walmart in Rialto, Calif., where a police officer was injured trying to defuse tensions over shoppers said to be cutting in line.

Separately, the Associated Press reports that police responding to a shoplifting report at a Chicago-area Kohl’s store shot the driver of a car that was dragging another officer outside. The dragged officer suffered a shoulder injury.

As usual, most of the big retail chains — Best Buy, Target and Walmart, to name a few — have increased security in place. Employees were also given crash courses in crowd control.

This year marks the five-year anniversary of a particularly notorious Black Friday: In 2008, a Walmart worker was trampled to death in New York and two men died after shooting each other at a Toys R Us in Palm Desert, Calif.

“It’s all about having a crowd management plan in place,” said Target spokeswoman Jessica Stevens. This includes making sure staff members are assigned to particular areas of the store and bringing in extra security guards. Employees arrived around 7 p.m. and had a last team meeting to get prepared before the doors opened, Stevens said.

The scene was orderly in Palm Desert this year, though. The only complaints were from people who said they had to rush through their Thanksgiving dinners in order to hit the stores.

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