Black Friday lives, but the draw isn’t the big deal it once was for many shoppers and the calendar makes that especially true in 2017.
Pamela Washington missed the doorbusters and that exciting push through newly unlocked doors this year. She’d traveled from Texas to visit relatives in the Kansas City area and didn’t get out until later Friday morning with her sister and cousin.
“If you come out late like I did this year, all the good stuff is gone,” Washington said in the aisles at JCPenney’s in Lee’s Summit. “I just like the rush of it, everybody bumping into each other.”
Washington and her sister still found plenty of bargains.
“I’m more or less done,” Sharon Glass said. “We got to figure out how to get all this home on the plane.”
A shopper-friendly calendar this year promises to help shoppers spread the traditional holiday buying binge over a more manageable pace.
Thanksgiving Day came early, one day short of the earliest it can land on the calendar. It gives shoppers five more shopping days until Christmas this year than they had four years ago, according to IHS Markit executive director Chris Christopher.
Also this year, Christmas falls on a Monday, Christopher said. Last-minute gifters get a full weekend to procrastinate for those Christmas morning stocking surprises.
Retailers have been doing their part to extend the Black Friday experience.
JCPenney opened its doors at 2 p. m. Thanksgiving Day and was handing out in-store coupons worth up to $500. Kohl’s, Macy’s, Walmart and Target opened their doors Thursday only a few hours behind.
And there still were bargains when doors reopened Friday, which is just fine with Gwenda Barton and her three sisters, all of whom came from outside the Kansas City area to shop Friday.
“We don’t consider Thursday as Black Friday,” said Barton, who came from Springfield, Mo. “We like coming up after everyone else has gone home.”
Online retailers have gotten an earlier start too, according to Bloomberg Technology blogger Brad Stone. He wrote about seeing Amazon’s “Black Friday” deals available a week ago and noted BestBuy.com offered a “rush sale.”
All of which puts forecasters in an optimistic mood.
Adobe Systems Inc. expects $107.6 billion in online sales this season, an increase of 13.8 percent over last year.
Forecasts have fattened this year along with workers’ wallets, companies’ payrolls and the stock market.
IHS Markit’s analysis forecasts the full retail sales season at a 4.2 percent increase over last year. The company’s US Payroll Tracker counts 820,000 more paychecks hitting bank accounts this Black Friday than last Black Friday. Paydays throughout the first days of the week mean 3.66 million shoppers are suddenly more solvent as the traditional start to holiday shopping season begins.
Restaurants are adding to the Black Friday experience more and more, offering deals and promotions to fuel up weary shoppers or entice them to come back later.
Westport’s Doughnut Lounge had a “buy a $25 gift card, get a $25 gift card free” on Black Friday, while Leawood’s Gordon Biersch offered $1 craft beers, and Brookside’s Avenues Bistro took reservations for its $10 per person brunch.
Dolce Bakery in Prairie Village plans to hand out a free cup of coffee all day Saturday.
Small Business Saturday has become another kick-off moment for the holiday shopping season, with suburban some area downtown districts promoting the day.
And Cyber Monday, online shopping’s version of the holiday shopping starting gun, continues to spread what had been traditionally limited to the Friday after Thanksgiving.
An estimated 164 million shoppers – or 69 percent of Americans – planned or considered shopping during the Thanksgiving weekend taking in Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday through to Cyber Monday, according to a survey of 7,439 consumers by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.
Black Friday was expected to be the busiest shopping day with 70 percent of those surveyed planning to shop then, but 43 percent are expected to shop on Small Business Saturday with a majority saying they want to show support to the local retailers.
For some surveyed, the extended weekend of shopping has become a family tradition and others see it as something to do over the long break and to take in the holiday decorations.
An extended Black Friday shopping season also works best for some shoppers who’ve met their limits.
Tonni Bender of Independence waited until 7:30 to go shopping Friday morning. She’s a recovering Black Friday shopper.
A few years ago, she was among the first through the door to buy stereos for two people on her list. She got one stereo into her cart, turned to get the second one, and when she turned back the cart was gone.
“This old lady stole my cart,” Bender said. “I was so mad I wanted to punch her. People are crazy at that part of the day.”
A store manager helped Bender recover the cart and first stereo, but her shopping tactics changed.
“The fact that I got so mad – there’s no way I can do that again,” she said in the checkout line at Kohl’s in the Independence Commons.