Thousands are expected to head to malls and stores in Southern California on Friday for Black Friday, but a survey indicated many shoppers have jumped the gun for the traditional start of the Christmas shopping season.
A survey conducted for the National Retail Federation by Prosper Insights & Analytics Oct. 31-Nov. 6 found that 56% of shoppers questioned had already begun their Christmas shopping, about the same as the past few years, but up from the 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.”
Malls and stores in Southern California are “going to be busy” on Black Friday, despite the opportunity to shop online or to have gone shopping on Thanksgiving or earlier in the month to take advantage of discounts, according to Zoe Bryan Engstrom, a consumer affairs lecturer in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences at California State University, Long Beach.
“You’re going to feel the holiday hustle and bustle and have the shopping experience,” Engstrom told City News Service.
While “online shopping in the last few years has outshadowed Black Friday,” and “diluted” it, Black Friday remains “significant,” Engstrom said.
Stores “will do typically about 5% to 6%” of their quarterly sales on Black Friday, compared to about 1% for the average day, Engstrom said.
“It’s like a week’s worth of sales in one day for the retailers,” Engstrom said. “It’s significant.”
There are several potential disappointments for Black Friday shoppers, Engstrom said.
“People are looking for deals on Apple iPhones, Macs, iPads, but Apple stores don’t have significant discounts,” Engstrom said. “The demand is just too strong for them. However, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile are offering significant gift cards with purchases, so that’s something to look for.”
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.
Black Friday is also the 28th annual “Buy Nothing Day,” billed as “a 24-hour moratorium on consumer spending” to “disentangle your mind from the compulsion to buy, the addiction that is wreaking more havoc than ever on our natural and mental environments,” according to Adbusters, which conceived the day.
Suggested “Buy Nothing Day” activities include setting up a table with a pair of scissors at a shopping mall to offer passers-by the opportunity to cut up their credit cards and organizing a group to push “empty shopping carts around in a long, inexplicable conga line without ever buying anything.”
Adbusters describes itself as “a global network of activists, writers, artists, designers, hackers, tricksters, poets, philosophers and punks.”
— City News Service