Shoppers pass by the Victoria’s Secret at The Greene Town Center in Beavercreek. KARA DRISCOLL/STAFF
Photo: KARA DRISCOLL/STAFF
Photo: KARA DRISCOLL/STAFF

Is Black Friday dead? Shoppers starting holiday shopping early

Black Friday could be taking a backseat to early sales, Thanksgiving deals and online shopping — but economists say though it’s morphing, Thanksgiving weekend will still be the busiest shopping time all year.

An estimated 164 million people are planning to shop or considering shopping during Thanksgiving weekend, according to the annual survey released Thursday by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. The numbers include Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Sunday and Cyber Monday.

In past years, Black Friday was traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year. Despite the early shopping deals, for some Black Friday still remains a day of shopping with friends and family.

“Don’t get me wrong. I like a good deal, but it’s still fun to get up early and go shopping to walk off all of the turkey you eat the day before,” said Angie Martin of Springboro.

While 115 million people still plan to shop on Black Friday, other days during the weekend are gaining traction. An estimated 78 million people will shop on Cyber Monday and 71 million will shop on Saturday to support small businesses. Retailers have been pushing early sales since October, offering special online deals on weekends for consumers.

» RELATED: 15 must-know things we’ve learned about holiday shopping

“We’re seeing consumers shop now,” said Gordon Gough, president and CEO of the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants. “Sales are going on now and retailers are asking consumers to visit their website or visit their brick-and-mortar establishments.”

About 56 percent of consumers have already started their holiday shopping. The holiday shopping season is vital to strong national, state and local economies because retail supports one in four jobs in Ohio. Ohio’s retail industry accounts for $26.5 billion of Ohio’s annual gross domestic product, according to the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants.

The national federation projects that holiday retail sales in November and December will be up between 3.6 percent and 4 percent for a total between $678.8 billion and $682 billion. Consumers say they will spend an average $967.13 this year, according to an annual survey conducted by the federation.

» RELATED: Here’s the full list of retailers closing on Thanksgiving

Target released its Black Friday deals in early November, and announced stores will open at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving. On Wednesday, Nov. 22, Target will make more than 100 Black Friday deals available on Target.com for REDcard holders only through its Early Access sale.

“Guests can get a jump start on holiday shopping with select Black Friday deals across toys, electronics, entertainment and more,” the retailer announced.

Cabela’s also announced early deals. The outdoor retailer kicked off 14 days of pre-Black Friday deals on everything from firearms to hunting boots and apparel. The outdoor retailer will offer new deals every day through Nov. 22. The retailer typically closed stores on Thanksgiving in the past, but announced this year that stores will remain open on the holiday.

Even online retailers tried to lure in consumers earlier. This is the first year that online shopping is expected to surpass brick-and-mortar sales, with 59 percent of consumers planning to spend online. Amazon decided to kicked off its Black Friday deals on Nov. 1, launching its “50 Days of Holiday Deals” campaign.

» RELATED: 3 retailers coming to The Greene in Beavercreek

Gough said consumers also have a longer amount of time to shop this season because Thanksgiving falls later on the calendar this year. He said shoppers have more options for how to shop this year, but the majority of consumers still view the holiday weekend as the prime time to buy.

“You’re just seeing that transformation of the retail industry,” Gough said. “I still think we’ll see crowds. Shopping is a social experience. They like to get up early with their family or finish Thanksgiving dinner and go shopping that evening. We’re all social beings and I don’t see that going away, but shoppers have more options. They can buy online, shopping at home on Thanksgiving night on their laptop will be done as well.”

Still, local malls and shopping centers are still prepping for large shopping crowds. Steve Willshaw, the general manager of The Greene Town Center in Beavercreek, said the shopping center starts to see larger crowds the weekend before Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

“It stays busy after that,” he said. “No one is going to argue that online sales have become a part of the shopping experience but you can’t dine online, take a carriage ride or enjoy any of the other holiday festivities that are associated with this time of year at The Greene.”

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