The big difference this year? Consumer habits are changing, with more shoppers passing on the long, winding lines to get early Black Friday deals. According to the NRF, fewer than 15 percent of consumers arrived at stores by 6 a.m. or earlier on Friday.
Nearly three in 10 shoppers — 29 percent — went out after 10 a.m. on Black Friday, up from 24 percent last year.
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Locally, swarms of shoppers crowded stores as early as 3 p.m. on Thanksgiving. At 2 p.m. on the holiday, hundreds of shoppers hovered in packs around the JC Penney in Beavercreek. Around the region, similar lines grew in front of retailers like Walmart, Kohl’s and Target, which ushered in customers Thursday night.
The NRF found the amount of Thanksgiving shoppers increased by about 1.3 percent this year, but still lagged behind the overall amount of people shopping online and in stores on Black Friday. In 2015, nearly 30 million people shopped on Thanksgiving — an increase from 2014 but down from the 45 million who shopped on the holiday in 2013.
On Black Friday, early-morning lines remained modest at some local retailers — bringing in dozens rather than hundreds. However, stores like Cabela’s in Centerville came up with deals to lure shoppers early. The store, which advertised a gun giveaway, had more than 1,200 people camp out overnight for the store’s opening at 5 a.m.
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“They said ‘free gun’ and I came running,” said Nathan Brown, a resident of Wilmington.
About 51 percent of shoppers went to department stores this weekend, while 34 percent visited discount stores, according to the NRF. Approximately 32 percent of consumers who shopped in stores went to electronics retailers and 28 percent went to clothing stores.
The Dayton Mall and The Mall at Fairfield Commons — both owned by the Washington Prime Group — had thousands of visitors over the weekend, according to mall officials. Department stores like Macy’s and JC Penney anchor the malls.
“We’re off to a great start,” said Shelley Sloan, regional marketing manager for the Washington Prime Group. “Thousands of shoppers flocked to the centers to take advantage of the great deals found at retailers as part of the official start of the holiday shopping season.”
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Increasingly, online shopping outpaced in-store sales as customers opted for the convenience of buying from their phones and laptops. Millennials — ages 18 to 34 — drove the increase in shopping during Thanksgiving weekend. Eight in 10 millennials shopped over the weekend, and about 56 percent of consumers shopped in stores and 62 percent went online.
“Shopping online is more convenient than ever before — while traveling, emailing or relaxing at home, we’re seeing consumers of all ages researching and shopping for online deals,” said Pam Goodfellow, Prosper’s principal analyst.
According to a report from Adobe Digital Insights, online shopping resulted in more than $36 billion in revenue from Nov. 1 to Nov. 27. Cyber Monday sales will provide a significant boost to that statistic.
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Cyber Monday is on track to retain its position as the top online shopping day of the season with more than $3 billion in sales, but Black Friday is quickly catching up as one of the most popular days to go online.
“We’ve seen record performance in online shopping over the last few days,” said Becky Tasker, managing analyst for Adobe. “Black Friday may overtake Cyber Monday for the first time ever due to Black Friday’s higher-than-expected revenue of $3.34 billion.”