A shopping mall during the holiday season. Photo via Pixabay

Shoppers are expected to flock to Southland stores and malls Thursday to partake in the relatively new tradition of shopping on Thanksgiving, despite the forecast of rain.

“I don’t think it will deter people from getting out,” said Zoe Bryan Engstrom, a consumer affairs lecturer in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences at California State University, Long Beach.

“I think the malls and stores … are going to be busy. You’re going to find the full experience of the holiday hustle and bustle.”

A survey conducted for the National Retail Federation by Prosper Insights & Analytics found that 39.6 million consumers are considering shopping on Thanksgiving, up from 34 million in the 2018 survey.

“Consumers will mostly be looking for deals on toys and electronics, but women’s wear should also be an attraction as well,” Engstrom told City News Service. “Walmart, Best Buy and Target are all stores that looking to provide those deals on toys, electronics and women’s wear.”

Thanksgiving shopping has its roots in shoppers lining up outside stores and malls on Thanksgiving, often in the cold, as they awaited for them to open early for Black Friday and accompanying sale prices.

Stores responded by opening earlier and earlier, including Target, Kohl’s, Macy’s and Best Buy opening at midnight on Black Friday in 2011. Thanksgiving Day shopping began in earnest in 2012 when Walmart and several other retailers opened most of their stores at 8 p.m.

Previously reluctant retailers like Sears joined the trend in subsequent years and other stores began opening earlier on Thanksgiving.

Such major department store chains as Target, Walmart, Kmart, Macy’s, JCPenney, Sears and Kohl’s will be open on Thanksgiving along with specialized retailers like Best Buy, Bed Bath & Beyond, Old Navy, Victoria’s Secret and Dick’s Sporting Goods.

“The stores have a creation of customer FOMO — fear of missing out,” Engstrom said. “There’s this feeling you could be sitting at home and (there are) deals to be had and you’re missing the whole thing. Retailers have successfully pulled back the starting time for Black Friday frenzy to a day earlier.”

Engstrom advised consumers “not to get too excited about price tags that are marked, 30, 40, 50% off.”

“Original prices are often inflated to give the consumer a feel of a deal,” Engstrom said. “They should find the price history of a product rather than looking at the actual price on a tag.”

Engstrom called camelcamelcamel.com “a really good website” for giving the history of a price of a product over the past year.

“It’s a better way to judge (whether) the true price of something is of quality,” Engstrom said.

For many, Black Friday, or even Thanksgiving, does not mark the start of the Christmas shopping season.

The survey of 7,917 adult consumers’ Thanksgiving weekend plans conducted Oct. 31-Nov. 6 found that 56% had already begun their Christmas shopping, about the same as the past few years, but up from 48% who had already started at the same point a decade ago.

“Consumers don’t wait for Thanksgiving or Black Friday anymore and neither do retailers,” Prosper executive vice president of strategy Phil Rist said. “Retailers responded this year by offering promotions earlier than ever, with some rolling out holiday deals even before Halloween.”

— City News Service

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.