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A Bleak Forecast For Black Friday


There may be bit more elbow room on Black Friday.  Only 18% of consumers plan to go shopping on retail’s favorite day of the year, according to a phone survey of 1,000 adults carried out by the deal tracker website  That would mark a steep decline from the 27% of consumers the National Retail Federation estimates hit the stores last Black Friday.

But what’s bad news for retailers, could be good for shoppers, experts say, as the deals may be improved to bring in the crowds.

The weak U.S. economy and uncertain outlook has made consumers more cautious about doing the bulk of their sale shopping in one day, the survey found. Some 52% of shoppers spend more than an hour researching the best price for each holiday purchase, while 87% of respondents are planning to spend “the same or less” during the upcoming holiday season than they did in 2010.

Such bleak forecasts haven’t stopped retailers from getting in on the act: Target and Macy’s both say they’ll open doors at midnight on Thanksgiving.

Fewer shoppers on Black Friday has another upside, experts say. “The last thing retailers want is customers being injured because they’re swarming their front door,” says retail analyst Jeff Green. Kit Yarrow, professor of psychology and marketing at Golden Gate University in San Francisco, says studies show that protein (turkey) reduces impulsive buys. “Maybe all that turkey will have some mitigating effect on the herd instinct that often prevails,” she says.


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    • Just like last year, they ignore online sales and focus exclusively on bricks and mortar retail. Guess where that other 10 percent will be? Buying stuff online instead of searching for a parking place at the mall.

    • I try to avoid malls, and shopping in general, between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. If I have to shop, I do it online.

    • MOS is correct. If we could easliy refinance our home loans on Black Friday the lines would be incredible. However, it seems like the traffic on Black Friday is somewhat constant as pepole either love shopping Black Friday or hate it! I think the traffic this Black Friday will be the same as most years…sales however may be less.

    • When people are careful about what they buy, you need new, exciting products to offer. Everybody is saturated with TVs, stereo systems, game systems, laptops, etc. Few people need clothes in mass. What may be hot are sales on luxury brands of clothes and tablets/phones. However, tablets and phones are usually not part of the Black Friday sales as they are tied to phone contracts, thus I personally don’t really need anything to get up at 4 am and stand in line in the hope that I might be the lucky one to get the deal. If they were offering discounts on existing loans, I think everybody would be in line.

    • If turkey helps stave off impulses, why didn’t that work during the boom years?

About Pay Dirt

  • Pay Dirt examines the millions of consumer decisions Americans make every day: What to buy, how much to pay, whether to rave or complain. Lead written by Quentin Fottrell, the blog examines these interactions, providing readers with news, insight and tips on shopping, spending, customer service, and companies that do right – and wrong – by their customers. Send items, questions and comments to or tweet @SMPayDirt.