What happened to the long lines, the big crowds?

Today is Black Friday — and that usually means long lines and big crowds as people rush to discover great deals on holiday purchases.

However, it was a quiet, rainy morning outside the Best Buy at the Crabtree Valley Mall – and quiet inside the mall, too.

“It’s not what I expected,” said one shopper, who braved the rain to find great deals — and found short lines and empty aisles. Most shoppers told WRAL News they were pleasantly surprised by the lack of crowds.

Why was Black Friday quieter this year?

Can the lack of crowds be attributed solely to the heavy rain this morning? Or maybe inflation has caused people to tighten their budgets?

Could it be because Black Friday deals run all week or even all month on some sites, reducing the effect of the same day?

Black Friday was mitigated by month-long sales, rather than door knockers

“I think it’s accurate to say that online sales now account for up to 40% of Black Friday sales,” said Scott Rankin, director of consumer and retail strategy at KPMG US.

Online shopping has gained popularity, not in-person deals

At Best Buy, a large pile of boxes flagged as online orders proved that people had ordered their deals on Best Buy early on and could now arrive at a leisure to pick up their items.

Online shopping was already gaining popularity before 2020, and the pandemic pushed online shopping to the limit. Online sales were skyrocketing even before the pandemic hit. In 2019, shoppers spent more than $600 billion online, up nearly 15% from the previous year, according to the Department of Commerce.

“Black Friday has definitely morphed more into a digital affair in the last five years,” said Neil Saunders, retail analyst and managing director at GlobalData Retail. “The focal point is no longer on that single day. It is an event that spans several days.”

The impact of inflation on holiday shopping

Against today’s economic backdrop, the National Retail Federation — the largest retail group — expects holiday sales growth to slow to a range of 6% to 8%, from a sharp 13.5% growth last year.

Adobe Analytics expects online sales to rise 2.5% from November 1 through December 31, a slowdown from last year’s 8.6% pace, which was higher although shoppers remain unsure about returning to physical stores.

Analysts consider the five-day Black Friday holiday, which includes Cyber ​​Monday, a key gauge of shoppers’ willingness to spend, especially this year. The two-month period between Thanksgiving and Christmas accounts for about 20% of the retail industry’s annual sales.

Small Business Saturday instead of Black Friday

With Black Friday seemingly losing steam, is there a possibility for more people to start focusing on small businesses on Saturday? Small Business Saturday was created to encourage consumers to shop locally, allowing local businesses to take a share of some of the holiday shopping revenue enjoyed by larger stores.

Downtown Cary has a walkable shopping district with many unique shops and local goods,

WRAL Out & About has created a Holiday Gift Guide with all kinds of ideas for heartfelt gifts—from food to wine to gift cards to homemade crafts.

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