Black Friday traditions waver in favor of shopping convenience

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Online sales, unique in-store deals could shake up Black Friday this year.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Retailers will rake in more revenue than ever before this holiday season, but consumers are rapidly abandoning Black Friday traditions for faster and more convenient shopping alternatives.

With the most popular shopping event of the year just days away, this season is mirroring trends that have steadily crept up on consumers in recent years. Big retailers are shutting down on Thanksgiving to save money, as seasonal jobs shift to e-commerce and distribution positions in the background of retail operations.

Holiday sales are expected to exceed $655 billion this year, according to the NRF. The main driver of this year’s holiday shopping trends? People are increasingly going online to buy purchases, especially the big-ticket ones.

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Holiday shopping is crucial for a stable economy since about 30 percent of annual retail sales occur between Black Friday and Christmas, according to the National Retail Federation.

Some shoppers have already said they’re opting out on Black Friday, as they can simply order their items with the click of a computer mouse or the touch of their phone.

“I’ll probably stay away from Black Friday,” said Kieran Campbell, a 21-year-old student at the University of Dayton. “It’s just too crazy for me.”

Sales in November and December are estimated to increase by 3.6 percent, quite higher than the 10-year average of 2.5 percent. Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist for NRF, said consumers have more confidence this year as many have seen steady job and income gains this year.

“All of the fundamentals are in a good place, giving strength to consumers and leading us to believe that this will be a very positive holiday season,” said Matthew Shay, NRF president and CEO. “This year hasn’t been perfect, starting with a long summer and unseasonably warm fall, but our forecast reflects the very realistic steady momentum of the economy and industry expectations.”

RELATED: Sales expected to increase this holiday season

Dozens of retailers are closing their doors on Thanksgiving Day, so they won’t have to incur the cost of an extra day of business. Retailers that have announced closures include Office Depot, Costco Wholesale, Cabela’s, HomeGoods, Ikea, Nordstrom, Marshalls, T.J. Maxx, Dillard’s, GameStop and Staples.

Several retailers have announced stores will shut down to give employees time to spend with their families on the holiday. Serdar Durmusoglu, associate professor of marketing at the University of Dayton, said big retailers often have to pay workers overtime or give special bonuses if they work on holidays.

Stores that shut down on Thanksgiving are still bringing in revenue through online sales, but aren’t forced to employ as many people that day. They’re able to shut down for the day because Thanksgiving falls earlier in the month, giving retailers more time before the holidays hit.

Gordon Gough, the president and CEO of the Ohio Council for Retail Merchants, said retailers have to respond “very quickly” to the ever-changing demand of consumer trends.

“It’s just part of the omnichannel of retail,” he said.

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Changing consumer habits have influenced how retailers hire for the season. Online sales could hit up to $92 billion this year, according to Adobe, which has caused a shift in what type of workers are needed at retailers.

Amazon, the online retail giant, announced it was looking to hire 120,000 employees for the holiday season, which included hiring in Cincinnati and Columbus. Jobs included filling customer orders and preparing them for delivery.

Locally, Kohl’s hired for 1,000 seasonal positions at its Monroe e-commerce center. The facility, located at 3500 Salzman Road, pays workers to help with loading and unloading trailers, scanning merchandise, packing orders and replenishing merchandise.

In-store help is still needed, with companies like Target, Elder-Beerman and Macy’s hiring thousands of workers in this area to manage the chaos of in-store holiday shopping. Retailers are expected to hire between 640,000 and 690,000 seasonal workers this holiday season.

The shift in job type will continue on as more consumers go online for purchases, according to retail experts.

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Gough said retailers are expecting online sales to continue climbing in generated revenue in the years to come. As younger generations gain more of the buying power, they expect stores to cater to their desires and need. And, they’re influencing older generations like the Baby Boomers and Gen X to want the same things.

For one, more consumers want their purchases to be delivered right to their doors. Delivery services anticipate shipping more than a billion gifts this holiday season. The United Parcel Service (UPS) alone estimates it will deliver more than 700 million packages.

Brick-and-mortar stores aren't doomed for the holidays, and will still hold a majority of sales. But experts say they have to give consumers a reason to get in their cars and drive out to their locations. Increasingly, younger shoppers — and the generations that mimic their consumer patterns — want shopping to feel like leisure activity.

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“Retailers have to give people a reason to physically drive there,” said Jason Dorsey, a Millennials and Generation Z researcher for The Center for Generational Kinetics.

One incentive for customers is clear price cuts.

According to WalletHub, stores like J.C. Penney and Kohl’s still have the best deals. Both ranked in the top 10 retailers with the best Black Friday discount averages.

Stores like Macy’s, Walmart and Kmart will remain open on Thanksgiving, and would lose major revenue to the competition if they closed.

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