Consumer services

Fearing empty shelves, Black Friday early risers are heading to U.S. stores

CHICAGO, Nov.26 (Reuters) – As many large U.S. retailers opened their doors to shoppers at 5 a.m. on Friday, early risers ventured out hoping to find gifts to store under the Christmas tree before the products sell out.

The day after Thanksgiving in the United States, known as Black Friday, officially kicks off the year-end shopping season. For most of the past few years, retailers have run doorbuster discounts of 50% or more on everything from clothes and toys to televisions, enticing shoppers to line up in front of stores and hurry. in shopping malls to search for deals.

But as online shopping took off, Black Friday crowds declined, especially in 2020, when people were still unvaccinated and worried about COVID-19.

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Either way, early queues were expected, with some shoppers worried that a continued supply chain blockage would prevent retailers from stocking wanted items such as Hoverboard scooters, Nerf toys, Oculus Quest 2 headsets, AirPods Pro headphones, and MacBook Air laptops.

Walmart (WMT.N), Best Buy (BBY.N) and Target (TGT.N) this year did not require shoppers who have been vaccinated to wear masks, but some indoor malls have maintained existing requirements by masks material.

A report from consumer research platform Attest showed that about two-thirds of 1,000 people surveyed on November 13 were comfortable shopping in person despite the ongoing pandemic.

“People are looking to get back to normal,” said Rod Sides, US retail leader at Deloitte. “The first birds in line and birds that have entered the store can catch the worm. “

A Deloitte survey showed that people had already spent 80-85% of their budget before Black Friday. Still, the consulting firm said two-fifths of those surveyed would line up in stores on Black Friday between midnight and 6 a.m.

Nivia Lopez, 26, of Bolingbrook, Illinois, has already crossed Ultra Beauty (ULTA.O) perfumes and makeup off her Christmas list, but ventures out to Victoria’s Secret, Best Buy (BBY.N) and Nordstrom (JWN.N) on Black Friday. Lopez, who typically shopped on Thanksgiving before stores increasingly closed on public holidays, took advantage of early online offers.

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U.S. consumers are entering the holiday season with full purchasing power thanks to a slew of still-sizable savings from several rounds of pandemic government relief, and now double-digit year-on-year pay increases. another as companies compete for the few workers.

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Online and physical retailers come together just outside the store. This Black Friday, retailers like Target, Macy’s (MN) and Walmart allotted more floor space and workers to line pickup stations and curbside parking.

Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, has hired 150,000 vacation workers, many for those jobs. Target added more than 18,000 car parking spaces, more than double the number of spaces last year.

Curbside pickup increased 92% in November compared to 2019, according to the Adobe Digital Economy Index, which showed that 23% of online orders on November 23 were for curbside pickup.

Hayden Willis and Grace Lafortune, visiting Chicago for Thanksgiving, lined up early on Black Friday before returning home to Seattle, despite some vacation shopping earlier in the week.

“I feel like there are more options online. I know things are going to be readily available and I can just buy and ship to my family,” said Lafortune, 22, who was considering gifts for Willis’ mother and sisters at Bloomingdales, Anthropology and Nordstrom Support.

As of Nov. 23, out-of-stock messages had already increased 8% from the previous week, according to Adobe. For most of November, stockouts were up 261% from 2019.

“Toy shortages have already been reported at a number of major vendors in North America and I think you’ll see similar shortages in electronics,” said Andy Halliwell, senior retail manager at the firm. of Publicis Sapient Consulting.

Electronics – in short supply due to a global shortage of chips – had the highest levels of out-of-stock products, followed by personal care, home and garden products, housekeeping, and household products. babies and toddlers, according to Adobe.

“Instead of seeing eight boxes of TVs stacked, you might see three or four stacks of TVs. You might see fewer bikes on the racks,” said NPD analyst Marshal Cohen.

Higher supply chain costs have forced many retailers to raise prices and reduce discounts.

Clothing prices, for example, rose 8.6% in the first 10 months of the year on an unadjusted basis, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This compares to an increase of 0% in the first 10 months of 2020 and 4.7% in the first 10 months of 2019. Meanwhile, in the 12 months leading up to October, the price index at consumption accelerated by 6.2%.

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Reporting by Richa Naidu and Arriana McLymore Editing by Nick Zieminski

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