Wed. Jan 20th, 2021

By ANNE D’INNOCENZIO, Joseph PISANI and Alexandra Olson, AP Retail Writers

NEW YORK (AP) – The raging coronovirus epidemic kept congestion at malls and stores across the country on Black Friday, but the surge in online shopping raised hope for struggling retailers after months of sales and businesses going bankrupt.

In typical times, Black Friday is the busiest shopping day of the year, eager to get millions started on their holiday spending.

But these are not the usual times: a spike in coronovirus cases is threatening to recover the economy by a sudden sinking in the spring. Crowds at stores were dramatically reduced as shoppers made an online change.

Game consoles, cookware, robot vacuum cleaners, slippers and pajamas were popular among shoppers who were preparing to spend a lot of time this winter. Many were still eager to indulge in the holiday spirit and make their loved ones happy after a difficult year.

Eric Kelly, the owner of a boxing gym, encamped outside a Black Friday store for the first time in his life, a PlayStation as a reward for his 13-year-old twin sons to persevere through distance education while at Pondicke. Was trying to score 5.

“They’ve gotten away from their friends,” said Kelly, who failed to get the console to a gameshot in Union Square in New York City, but said he would keep trying online. “They have done everything in and out of school, so I have to award them for being exceptional kids.”

Prior to Black Friday, GameStop teased that a limited supply of the new retail $ 500 PlayStation 5 game would be for sale only at its stores, unlike other retailers that offered only hot-ticket items online.

Many retailers put forward their security protocols to reassure customers wary about arriving on Black Friday. But stores also digitally prepare people who shop online to pursue their doorbuster deals and complete curbside pickup options as the last option for sale before the end of the year.

Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail, said, “Black Friday is still critical. No retailer wants it to tarnish. It’s still important to spend your consumers and get consumers in a holiday mood.”

Several hundred shoppers line up before opening at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, which usually attracts several thousand people on Black Friday.

The smaller crowd was planned, said Jill Renslow, Mall of America, senior vice president of business development. The mall spread Black Friday deals over eight days, and many retail renters overpriced online and curbside pickups.

“It feels good, and it’s the right thing to do to keep everyone safe,” Renslow said “Everyone is shopping a little bit different but that’s fine.”

Macy’s Herald Square in New York featured only a move from shoppers, offering 50% off handbags and 60% off women’s and men’s coats. The workers cleaned the doorposts and windows.

A Christmas tree is located on fairly empty streets around The Domain, the most popular outdoor mall in Austin, Texas. The store’s staff counted masked shoppers to remain within the state’s 75% capacity limit.

The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention has described shopping in crowded stores as “high risk” activity during the holidays and said that people should limit the purchase to anyone.

The nation’s largest retail trade group, the National Retail Federation, predicted that shoppers would look for reasons to celebrate. The business group expects the November and December period to grow between 3.6% and 5.2% during 2019, compared to 4% growth a year earlier. Holiday sales have averaged 3.5% in the last five years.

“We think there is going to be a psychological factor, for which he attributes a better-than-normal vacation to himself and his family,” said Jack Kleinhinz, NRF’s chief economist.

According to Adobe Analytics, Thanksgiving Day hit a new record online, reaching $ 21.5 billion compared to a year earlier, measuring sales at 0 out of 100 U.S. online retailers. According to Adobe the most popular items were Lego sets, Barbie toys, and baby scooters, HP laptops, and Apple Watches. The popularity of Netflix’s “Queen’s Gambit” has boosted sales of chess-related items.

Walmart, which spread its Black Friday deals over several weekends, said its most popular deals include home appliances such as this year’s new gaming console, wireless headphones, Adophy robotic vacuum.

According to Adobe, Black Friday is projected to generate $ 10 billion in online sales, up 39% from the year-ago period. And Cyber ​​Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving, will be the largest online shopping day of the year, with $ 12.7 billion in sales, a jump of 35%.

Analysts say big box stores such as Walmart and Target, which were allowed to remain open during the spring lockdown, have benefited more from accelerating their online services.

But shops that were deemed non-essential had to struggle to withdraw. Jessie Penny and Jay. More than 40 chains, including Crew, filed for bankruptcy.

“Is there a boom in apparel offering, footwear gifting to help a particular retailer and do they really have a digital presence to grab consumers’ attention?” Said Sonia Lapinski, managing director at AlixPartners’ retail practice. “It remains to be seen, and I think it will be more on the serious side.”

There are fewer deals this year. Non-essential retailers were forced to reduce production at the onset of the epidemic, which led to lower inventories. As a result, holiday promotions are tracking below last year’s level for clothing, consumer electronics, electrical and hand tools and household items, according to Numeter, a market research firm.

Erica Mendez usually goes to every Black Friday mall to shop at clothing brands Zara, H&M or Forever 21. But this year, a journalist student from New Jersey ended up shopping on Amazon, with a Nike Track Suit discount of 25%, as well as Nike sneakers that were off 20%.

“Ordering online is easier than going out,” says Mendez.

And the most hurt by the Black Friday epidemic was the last thing on some people’s minds. In a popular shopping area in St. Petersburg, Florida, several storefronts were vacant, and one line was at only one plasma donation center.

Leonard Chester, 58, said he expected to get at least $ 55 for charity, adding that he needed to eat. When reminded that it’s Black Friday, they let out a laugh and pointed to the line around them.

“It says that people are hurting.” The economy is in bad shape, ”said Chester, who was sidelined two months ago from his job as a bouncer at a strip club.

AP staff writer Tamara Lash in St. Petersburg, Florida and Acacia Coronado in Austin, Texas contributed to this report.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This content may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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