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Scarce Black Friday crowds herald the start of holiday shopping in the United States

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By Arriana McLymore and Doyinsola Oladipo

(RockedBuzz via Reuters) – Skinny crowds of inflation-weary shoppers hunted Black Friday deals at stores in big cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and other locations, marking the start of a holiday shopping season in the US crucial for retailers in an uncertain economy.

Many buyers who opened their wallets said their purchases were strategic, not impulsive or crazy.

“We’ve been waiting for” discounts, said Tulio Rose, 28, who bought a big-screen TV at a Best Buy store in Los Angeles, while shopping with Barnisha Nill, 35. They saved about $500 on the 85-inch (2.16-meter) Samsung TV for their new apartment.

According to the National Retail Federation, an estimated 166 million people planned to shop from Thursday’s Thanksgiving holiday through the upcoming “Cyber ​​Monday,” nearly 8 million more than last year. But with sporadic rain in parts of the country, shops were less crowded than usual on Black Friday.

“Usually this time of year you struggle to find parking. This year I had no trouble finding a parking space,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry consultant at NPD Group Inc.

“It’s a lot of social shopping, everyone just trying to get what they need. There’s no sense of urgency,” Cohen added, based on his checks in New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia.

At the American Dream mall in East Rutherford, New Jersey, there were no queues outside the stores. A Toys ‘R’ Us employee was handing out flyers listing Black Friday’s “door-busting” promotions.

Those who arrived at the mall were surprised by the offerings.

“There are a lot of deals that haven’t been advertised. In some stores, I’ve gotten 50% off everything I’ve bought,” said Christine Chavez, 45. She added that she mostly does gift shopping and has picked up items from Victoria Secret and Torrid.

“I was reluctant to come to the mall, and I have to say I’m pleasantly surprised,” Chavez added.

Many shoppers looking for Apple’s latest high-end phones have returned empty-handed from its stores as the tech company struggles with manufacturing snags in China.


At a Dollar Tree store in Rockville, Maryland, shoppers said they were looking for specific items or picking up household items like sodas and dish sponges.

JR Moran, 49, grabbed strands of red and green tinsel and felt antlers, which he planned to use for an “ugly sweater.” But he said he would be doing more holiday shopping online.

“Online shopping is more convenient nowadays,” Moran said.

Online sales will reach between $9 and $9.2 billion this Black Friday, according to a report from Adobe Analytics. The projection is slightly higher than the company’s previous forecast of $9 billion, which would represent a modest 1% increase over last year.

According to Adobe, US shoppers spent nearly 3% more online on Thanksgiving, with purchases made on mobile phones leading the increase. Adobe Analytics, which measures e-commerce by tracking website transactions, has access to purchase data at 85 percent of the top 100 Internet retailers in the United States.


Americans, especially those in low-income households, are expected to retire this year as inflation and rising energy prices reduce purchasing power. European retailers face a worsening cost-of-living crisis and the distraction of the soccer World Cup.

Retailers are offering deep discounts both online and in stores, which could reduce profit margins in the fourth quarter.

Consultancy firm Kearney said its checks showed clothing retailers were the most active with sales, offering up to 60% off merchandise. Televisions and electronics have also benefited from deep discounts to tempt consumers who have tightened their purse strings.

Walmart has stepped up its holiday marketing, buying ad space on Twitter and Instagram, at National Football League games, and on billboards near Penn Station in New York City.

Amazon was offering a plethora of deals, including up to 42% off Roomba vacuums, 45% off Calvin Klein men’s T-shirts, and up to 50% off Chromebooks from Lenovo, HP, Acer, and ASUS.

“It’s hard to say how Black Friday is going so far,” said Michael Brown, partner at Kearney. “We need to look at the entire holiday season. The slowdown in shopping could be pushed to Cyber ​​Monday or beyond.”

Black Friday is expected to bring in $9 billion from online sales, a modest 1% increase from last year, with shoppers now flocking to physical stores after a lull caused by the COVID-19 pandemic over the past two years.

(Additional reporting by Arriana McLymore in Raleigh, NC, Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles, Doyinsola Oladipo in East Rutherford, New Jersey, Siddharth Cavale in New York and Hilary Russ in Bethesda, Maryland; Nick Zieminski, Will Dunham and Daniel Wallis)