You are here: Home » International » News » Others
Business Standard

Black Friday: Shoppers in US turn up in small numbers amid Covid fears

Retailers overhauled the traditionally busy shopping day that comes the day after Thanksgiving

Topics
Coronavirus

Reuters  |  NEW YORK 

Shopping mall

Masked shoppers turned up in smaller numbers at major U.S. retailers including Macy's Inc, Walmart Inc and Best Buy Co Inc on Black Friday as early online deals and worry about the spike in COVID-19 cases dulled enthusiasm for trips to the mall.

Retailers overhauled the traditionally busy shopping day that comes the day after Thanksgiving. Walmart opened stores at 5 a.m. on Friday, directing shoppers to turn right upon entering and proceed along main aisles to shop deals before paying at registers surrounded by plastic barriers.

Best Buy opened at 5 a.m., employing workers in can't miss orange vests to serve as traffic cops. offered temperature checks and "grab-and-go" merchandise, including toys, bikes and kitchen appliances to discourage lingering in store aisles.

Bill Park, a partner at Deloitte & Touche LP, estimated traffic at the King of Prussia mall outside of Philadelphia was down about 20-30% compared to last year.

"I'm surprised at the traffic. It's down a little bit but heavier than I thought," he said but noted shoppers were not loaded down with packages.

Elsewhere, shoppers with empty carts lined up a socially-distant six feet apart before the Walmart in LaGrange, Kentucky opened, but crowds appeared down overall. Stores selling popular computer game consoles had some of the longest lines as gamers tried to land Sony Corp's PlayStation 5.

Brothers-in-law Gabriel Rojas, 24 and Juan Cabrera, 24 were waiting in line at GameStop in New York's Bronx borough, since 2 a.m. on Friday, hopeful to snatch up a PS5. They were unsuccessful as there were some 20 people ahead of them and the retailer only had two left in stock, they said.

"We're bummed" said Rojas. "But that's ok."

Some had better luck.

Roger Mustafa, 37, walked out of a Manhattan GameStop with a PS5 in a plastic bag and a huge smile on his face. It cost him $544 and a lot of sleep.

"I've been waiting outside of GameStop for two days," said Bronx resident Mustafa. "Now I'm going to go home and get some sleep."

At Macy's New York flagship, Asuncion Peralta, 77, said she was not afraid to shop because she had COVID-19 antibodies.

"I've been waiting for this day for a long time to buy towels and sheets, everything else that I need," said Peralta. "These prices are not Black Friday prices. I came here two days ago and the deals were better."

DEALS ONLINE

During this pandemic-ridden year, retailers from Target Corp to Kohl's Corp and Walmart  rolled out online winter holiday promotions in October to capture any holiday-related spending as early as possible.

Upscale department store operator Nordstrom, which has seen its sales tumble in the pandemic, offered customers a $15 gift card if they picked up packages curbside at their stores.

Overall, the National Retail Federation (NRF) forecasts U.S. holiday retail sales will increase between 3.6% and 5.2% over 2019, for a total of $755.3 billion to $766.7 billion. That compares with an average annual increase of 2.5% over the past five years.

On Nov. 19, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) deemed "going shopping in crowded stores just before, on, or after Thanksgiving" as a high-risk activity.

Target employee Seth Schaffer, 22, from Lufkin, Texas, said shoppers in his store appeared less concerned about taking precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

"Deep east Texas isn't the type of place where you'll see everyone respecting mask policies or avoiding close contact."

Adobe Analytics expects Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2020 to still become the two largest online sales days in history, with Black Friday online sales between $8.9 billion and $10.6 billion.

Melissa Bloss, who works at a bank in Rapid City, South Dakota, said she plans to do all her shopping online this year.

"Most companies have been having sales throughout the month. I really don't have a need to rush out when I can get the same deal a week later," she said.

 

(Reporting by Melissa Fares in New York; Additional reporting by Richa Naidu in Chicago, James Davey in London and Aishwarya Venugopal in Bengaluru; Editing by Vanessa O'Connell, Louise Heavens and Nick Zieminski)

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

Dear Reader,


Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.
We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

First Published: Sat, November 28 2020. 07:50 IST
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU
.