NATIONAL NEWS

Stores kick off Black Friday but pandemic woes linger

Nov 26, 2021, 5:42 AM

FILE: Shoppers walk through the Fashion Place Mall looking for 'Black Friday" deals on Nov. 25, 201...

FILE: Shoppers walk through the Fashion Place Mall looking for 'Black Friday" deals on Nov. 25, 2016 in Salt Lake City, Utah. The day after Thanksgiving, called Black Friday, is typically the biggest shopping day of the year in the United States. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

(Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (AP) — Retailers are expected to usher in the unofficial start to the holiday shopping season Friday with bigger crowds than last year in a closer step toward normalcy. But the fallout from the pandemic continues to weigh on businesses and shoppers’ minds.

Buoyed by solid hiring, healthy pay gains and substantial savings, customers are returning to stores and splurging on all types of items. But the spike has also resulted in limited selection across the board as suppliers and retailers have been caught flat-footed.

Shortages of shipping containers and truckers have helped to delay deliveries while inflation continues to creep. The combination of not finding the right item at the right price — in addition to a labor shortage that makes it more difficult for businesses to respond to customer needs — could make for a less festive mood.

Shoppers are expected to pay on average of between 5% to 17% more for toys, clothing, appliances, TVs and others purchases on Black Friday this year compared with last year, according to Aurelien Duthoit, senior sector advisor at Allianz Research. TVs will see the highest price hike on average, up 17% from a year ago, according to the research firm. That’s because whatever discounts available will be applied to goods that are already expensive.

“I think it is going to be a messy holiday season,” said Neil Saunders, managing director at GlobalData Retail. ”It will be a bit frustrating for retailers, consumers and the workers. We are going to see long lines. We are going to see messier stores. We are going to see delays as you collect online orders.”

For years, Black Friday has been losing importance. Since 2011, stores jumpstarted the holiday shopping season by opening their doors on Thanksgiving to compete with Amazon and other rising online threats. But the shift merely cannibalized Black Friday sales. The shopping bonanza was further diluted when stores started marketing Black Friday sales for the full week and then later for the month.

The pandemic further diminished the importance of the Black Friday event, though some experts still believe it will again be the busiest day of the year. Last year, retailers started to offer the big holiday sales earlier in October in an effort to spread out shopping for safety reasons and to smooth out online shipping peaks. They also got rid of the Thanksgiving Day in-store shopping event and pushed all their discounts online. This year, retailers are embracing a similar strategy, though they are now pushing holiday discounts in stores as well.

Despite all the challenges, experts believe that sales for the Thanksgiving week and overall season will be strong.

U.S. retail sales, excluding auto and gas, from this past Monday through Sunday are expected to increase 10% from last year and 12.2% from the 2019 holiday season, according to Mastercard SpendingPulse, which measures overall retail sales across all payment types including cash and check.

Online sales are forecast to increase 7.1% for that week, a slowdown from the massive 46.4% gain in the same period a year ago when shoppers collectively pivoted to the internet instead of shopping in person, according to Mastercard. For the overall holiday season, online sales should increase 10% from a year ago, compared with a 33% increase last year, according to Adobe Digital Economy Index.

Sales on Black Friday are expected to surge 20% from a year ago as store traffic comes back.

For the November and December period, the National Retail Federation, the nation’s largest retail trade group, predicts that sales will increase between 8.5% and 10.5%. Holiday sales increased 8.2% in 2020 when shoppers, locked down during the early part of the pandemic, spent their money on pajamas and home goods.

KSL 5 TV Live

National News

FILE - Donald Trump Jr., speaks at a rally for his father, Republican presidential candidate former...

Jill Colvin and David Fischer, The Associated Press

Letter containing white powder sent to Donald Trump Jr.’s home

Emergency crews responded Monday after a letter containing an unidentified white powder was sent to the Florida home of Donald Trump Jr., the eldest son of former President and GOP front-runner Donald Trump.

9 hours ago

Aaron Bushnell as seen from his LinkedIn profile. Bushnell set himself ablaze outside the Israeli E...

Michael Balsamo, Associated Press

US airman dies after setting himself ablaze outside Israeli Embassy in Israel-Hamas war protest

An active-duty member of the U.S. Air Force has died after he set himself ablaze outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C., while declaring that he “will no longer be complicit in genocide.”

13 hours ago

An artist's impression depicts a dead white dwarf star and its magnetic field, which is usually inv...

Ashley Strickland, CNN

Dead ‘cannibal’ star spotted with metal scar after consuming part of a planet

Astronomers have spotted an unusual sign that a dead star feasted on a fragment of a planet orbiting it: a metal scar on the star’s surface.

13 hours ago

The Birmingham England Temple Rendering...

Michael Houck

Church releases location for the Vancouver Washington Temple and renderings for England, U.S. temples

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has released the site location of the Vancouver Washington Temple and the artistic renderings for temples in England, Nevada, and Texas.

14 hours ago

FILE - A sign advertises Yeezy shoes made by Adidas at Kickclusive, a sneaker resale store, in Para...

Associated Press

Adidas sells another batch of Yeezy sneakers left over from breakup with Ye

Shoe and sports clothing maker Adidas says it has started a third sale of the Yeezy sneakers it was left with after severing ties with Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West.

15 hours ago

FILE - Asylum-seekers walk to a U.S. Border Patrol van after crossing the nearby border with Mexico...

Seung Min Kim, Colleen Long, Zeke Miller, and Jill Colvin, Associated Press

Biden and Trump are making dueling trips to the Mexico border in Texas on Thursday, AP sources say

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump will make dueling trips to the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas on Thursday.

17 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Stores kick off Black Friday but pandemic woes linger