KIRO Newsradio hosts: Black Friday isn’t what it was
Nov 24, 2023, 11:36 AM | Updated: 7:37 pm
(Photo: Emily Elconin, Getty Images)
Shoppers hunting for big deals filled stores across the nation on Black Friday as retailers stepped up discounts and offered other perks to entice hesitant customers who are sticking to stricter budgets this year.
Black Friday continues to be the most popular day to shop, with 72% (130.7 million) planning to shop, up from 69% in 2022, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). Sensormatic Solutions also expects Black Friday to be the busiest shopping day of the holiday season in the U.S.
Overall, the NRF forecast earlier this month that holiday spending is expected to reach record levels during November and December and will grow between 3% and 4%, totaling $957.3 billion to $966.6 billion. By comparison, last year holiday sales totaled $929.5 billion. This year’s holiday spending is consistent with the average annual holiday increase of 3.6% from 2010 to 2019.
Many retailers ordered fewer goods for this holiday season and pushed holiday sales earlier in October than last year to help shoppers spread out their spending. The early shopping trend accelerated during the pandemic when clogs in the supply network in 2021 made people buy early. But this year, retailers said more shoppers are focusing on deals and waiting until the last minute.
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Locally, KIRO Newsradio reported hundreds of shoppers filled the parking lot by 5:30 a.m. on Black Friday, hours before staff at Seattle Premium Outlets in Tulalip opened their shuttle to help traffic.
But the Associated Press noted in its coverage that the crowds for this day of shopping are different now than they used to be.
“Gone are the Black Fridays of years ago when customers would stand in line for hours in the middle of the night, or brawls would break out over high demand items. Still, shopping on Black Friday remains a cherished tradition for many,” the outlet wrote.
It added Macy’s at Herald Square in New York City was packed by mid-morning.
“I love doing it. I stay up the whole night just waiting for this day,” the AP quoted Lisa Brooks a nurse from the Bronx who was at Macy’s early looking for perfume, socks and other items for herself and her mother.
Samuel Alvez, 44, and his wife ventured out for Black Friday shopping for the first time in years. At a Walmart in Germantown, Maryland, the couple bought two computer monitors and a pressure cooker but Alvez said he was disappointed in the discounts.
“Back in the day, they had these good deals in stores,” Alvez said. “Now, we don’t see that anymore.”
One analyst told the Associated Press that stores are busy, but the tumult of the past is not there.
“Stores are humming, but there is no frenzy,” said Marshal Cohen, chief retail adviser at Circana, a market research firm, who visited 11 different malls in South Florida Friday. He said shoppers are sticking to their list and don’t seem excited about the discounts out there.
Several KIRO Newsradio show hosts agreed with the idea that Black Friday isn’t as huge as it used to be.
Gee and Ursula weigh in
Ursula Reutin, co-host of the Gee & Ursula Show, acknowledged during her show Tuesday that she understands many people partake in Black Friday shopping, but she doesn’t participate as much anymore.
“It is for many people, it has become less so for me,” Ursula said. “Just because as I get a little bit older, I have a little less patience for the big crowds. And then I’m not thoroughly convinced that I’m getting a better deal on Black Friday.”
Gee & Ursula producer Andrew “Chef” Lanier also isn’t a fan of Black Friday, saying he has done just once in his life.
“I’ve gone to Black Friday once in my life with an ex’s family in Idaho,” he said. “They had no shopping goals. … It was just because there were deals were going out. It was a total crap show. Complete crap show. Never again.”
Gee Scott said during the show Thursday, “I’m not doing it.” But before that, he recalled the times where the day felt bigger and what he bought during those days.
“This is when this is back in the thick of it when it was one of those things where you really wanted to get out there at 1, 2 in the morning .. The DVD player! (It’s) 1999. ‘Oh, I need that DVD player!’ or some type of TV.”
John and Jake remember Black Friday in the past
During the John Curley and Shari Elliker show Wednesday, John said he doesn’t think Black Friday is dead, but it isn’t what it was.
“So it is Black Friday … People will go out and shop,” John said. “I didn’t think it was dead. It’s still going on. I don’t think people are dying like they were …”
John then recounted what Black Friday used to be like, noting the story of a Walmart employee in New York who was trampled to death during the Black Friday rush in 2008.
“There was a guy that worked at Walmart as a greeter was crushed in the doors. And then there were other people are jumping on people’s backs. In order to get flat screen TVs remember that you’d see everybody just racing through the doors to grab whatever they could.”
KIRO Nights host Jake Skorheim, who was filling in for Shari, agreed with John, recalling some of the news coverage that used to accompany the day.
“They also do this thing with Black Friday — they used to a lot more — where … they (would) just have a camera in front (of a store). And it would just be like people walking out with, at the time, it was 35 inch TVs, if you can imagine a TV that size for 50 only $1,500. And people would just be buying these things like two at a time. And it was crazy.”
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Jake also thought back to times when early Black Friday shopping would get in the way of enjoying Thanksgiving.
“Black Friday was so popular people (say), ‘Oh, you’ve got to get to BestBuy. If you don’t get the best buy by midnight, you’re not going to get the good thing,'” Jake said. “So, people would leave their Thanksgiving meal. And you would go and then get in line at 9 p.m.”
John noted the rise of online shopping and how much Amazon plays a role in the holiday shopping experience as well.
“Maybe people aren’t doing as much (in-person) anymore,” John said. “Because you do get more shopping on Monday, Cyber Monday, Amazon picks up more so that has actually topped in person retail sales. Because when people shop comfortably from home, were you ever on Monday,
Meanwhile, Jack Stine, one of the hosts of Jack & Spike, said during his show Tuesday afternoon that he wants nothing to do with Black Friday.
“I don’t go out on Black Friday because I value my life,” he said. “I wanted to give everybody a really solid PSA. Black Friday is a great nothing day… Go on a walk. Don’t drive. Spend time with your relatives. Black Friday is a great day to not go shopping. It is a phenomenal day because everybody else is out shopping and being insane.”
Contributing: The Associated Press
- Tune in to KIRO Newsradio weekdays at 3pm for John Curley and Shari Elliker.