Fashion Valley mall in San Diego’s Mission Valley. Courtesy Simon Property Group

Customers flocked to San Diego County stores for Black Friday, but the shopping holiday went off fairly uneventfully, with law enforcement across the region confirming there were no reports of disputes of brawls over discounted items Friday.

Many stores and malls, including Fashion Valley Mall, Westfield Mission Valley and The Shoppes at Carlsbad opened to customers on Thanksgiving night, closed for the early morning hours and reopened again Friday morning. Others, including Carlsbad Premium Outlets and Las Americas Premium Outlets, were to be open from late on Thanksgiving Day all the way through Friday night.

Some shoppers took advantage of the increased hours, but some said crowds were thinner than in years past.

“I think the only reason we’re here at this time,” a woman shopping at Carlsbad Premium Outlets told 10News, “is because there’s no lines. And we can leave our kids at home. They’re sleeping while we can shop.”

Climbing online sales could potentially be a factor in the thinner Black Friday crowds.

Online shopping nationally has jumped 15.2 percent in the first nine months of the year, compared to last year, said Raymond Sfeir, director of Chapman University’s A. Gary Anderson Center for Economic Research.

“That is a huge increase,” Sfeir said.

It indicates that the annual Cyber Monday online retail event will mark the beginning of the holiday shopping season for many younger discount hawks, Sfeir said.

“I expect e-commerce to grab an even larger portion of retail this year,” Sfeir said. “It’s sad to see so many stores closing in different malls and shopping centers, including a lot of clothing stores, but for young people that’s where they shop these days. They like to take out the cellphone and click a few times and get something in the mail.”

It’s more convenient in some ways, but without trying clothes on in a store it leads to a lot of returns, Sfeir said.

“They’ll order five things and keep one and ship back the rest,” Sfeir said. “For the new generation that’s what they’re used to. They’re not used to touching things and kicking the tires so to speak in the stores.”

Monday sales are “increasing at a faster rate than the sales on Friday and the (Thanksgiving) weekend in general,” Sfeir said.

He predicts a strong shopping season at brick-and-mortar stores, though, based on positive economic indicators.

“We have very good employment data, and that is very important — the unemployment rate is extremely low,” Sfeir said.

The stock market has been retreating, but Sfeir does not think that will affect shopping this weekend.

“I think it will be fine,” he said. “Profits are still strong, the economy is doing well and GDP is expected to grow next year. A little less than this year, though.”

— City News Service

Show comments