Bethany Clough

Ready to shop? Here’s what to expect on Thanksgiving and beyond

Like it or not, the blitz of Black Friday holiday shopping is coming.

An estimated 59 percent of Americans will hit the stores this week or weekend.

They’ll have plenty of chances to score some deals. With Black Friday shopping stretching out like the waistband on our Thanksgiving Day pants, shoppers will start hitting stores on Thanksgiving afternoon and keep shopping through Small Business Saturday and into Sunday.

People who prefer to shop from their couches will buy, too, with plenty of online deals offered before and after Black Friday this year. Cyber Monday, the traditional day for online discounts, is predicted to be the largest online shopping day in history (with Black Friday online sales close behind), according to Adobe Digital Insights, a division of Adobe that tracks purchases at retailers.

Here’s what to expect in the Fresno area:

Early starters

The “Thanksgiving creep” of stores opening earlier and earlier Thursday has stalled. Many of the big-box stores are opening the same time they did last Thanksgiving: Toys R Us at 5 p.m. and Target and Fashion Fair at 6 p.m., for example.

The earliest major store is JCPenney, which is again opening at 3 p.m. and likely will see a repeat of the 500 people who showed up for the opening last year.

Some stores are making a point of staying closed on Thanksgiving, most notably REI. The store will be closed Thursday and Black Friday, encouraging its customers to #OptOutside instead.

Backlash from customers insisting that employees should spend Thanksgiving with their families played a part in slowing the Thanksgiving creep. But for many stores, the math simply didn’t make sense to keep opening earlier and earlier.

“The trend of shopping on Thanksgiving Day is changing,” said Ana Serafin Smith, spokeswoman for the National Retail Federation. “We’re seeing retailers are also looking into their business and saying, ‘Does this really make sense?’ 

Staying open throughout the night is costly, with many stores paying employees time and a half to work Thanksgiving Day. Business gets downright sluggish during the early morning hours when just a few shoppers are in the store.

That may be why Macy’s decided to open at 5 p.m. Thursday, but close between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. Friday. Fashion Fair and Best Buy will close for a few hours, too.

Although Thanksgiving will see all the big lines and excitement, only about 21 percent of people plan to shop that day, according to a survey by the retail federation.

Norma Jean Molina of Fresno will be one of them. She’ll head out around 5 p.m. after her Thanksgiving meal.

She’s hoping to buy an iPhone 7 at Best Buy that comes with a $250 gift card and get 40-inch TVs at Walmart for about $125 to give as Christmas presents for her family. She’ll be back at PetSmart for its 7 a.m. opening to buy 50-pound bags of dog food that she donates to shelters.

“For me it’s worth it because I’ve saved hundreds and hundreds of dollars,” she said. “You can get (some of) those deals only if you show up.”

TGIF

Black Friday is still the No. 1 shopping day of the weekend, with 74 percent of shoppers polled saying they plan to come out that day. Even though they’ll miss some of the extreme deals, shopping that day has become a tradition for people who are off work.

They’ll contribute to the predicted $655.8 billion in sales overall this holiday season, up 3.6 percent.

Small Business Saturday also continues to grow, with 47 percent of shoppers surveyed saying they plan to shop that day. Though it doesn’t have the long lines or the hoopla of big-box store openings, it’s become a way for shoppers to support local businesses. (Stores and shoppers often point to statistics showing that for every $100 spent at local stores, $68 stays in the community, compared to $43 at nonlocal businesses, according to an AT&T Small Business technology poll.)

Becky Tuttle of Fresno, who has four children and five grandchildren to buy for, prefers to shop at small businesses on Saturday and via crafters’ and artisans’ sites on Cyber Monday.

“Once Thanksgiving break happens, I try not to go to any of the big shopping areas,” she said. “I try to avoid going on Shaw. I try to avoid all those areas because it just gets so crazy.”

Online rush

Tuttle isn’t alone.

The ranks of people shopping from home are growing fast. This year, online shopping is expected to be at its highest ever, up 6.8 percent from last year, according to the retail federation. It’s almost tied with department stores when it comes to where people plan to shop.

People from of all walks of life are increasingly comfortable with shopping online and trusting they’ll get their gifts on time, said Becky Tasker, Adobe Digital Insights managing analyst. Shoppers are also increasingly browsing for gifts on their phones, even if they don’t buy them that way.

Shoppers don’t have to wait to get online deals, with many stores rolling out good deals – 40 percent off appliances at Best Buy, for example – in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. Walmart will start its Cyber Monday discounts on Friday.

And Kohl’s starts its Cyber Monday deals on Sunday and stretches them through Wednesday.

Cyber Monday should rack up $3.36 billion in purchases, a 9.4 percent jump from last year, according to Adobe Digital Insights.

The day is picking up steam among consumers, said Jeff Cartwright, spokesman for Morning Consult, a nonpartisan technology and media company.

“It’s pretty easy,” he said. “It’s a day where there are sales literally at your fingertips. You literally don’t even have to get out of bed.”

Bethany Clough: 559-441-6431, @BethanyClough

Day by day shopping

Nicknames for the shopping days after Thanksgiving are getting increasingly popular:

Black Friday: The traditional day of deals

Small Business Saturday: The day to shop at locally owned businesses coined by American Express

Cyber Monday: The day when online retailers have lots of bargains

Giving Tuesday: Coined in 2012, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving is a kickoff to the charitable giving season

Green Monday: Dec. 12 this year, typically the third-largest online shopping day of the year (Cyber Monday and Black Friday are Nos. 1-2)

Gift

% of respondents who said they want to receive it

Gift cards

61%

Clothing

53.5%

Books, CDs, DVDs, videos or video games

40%

Consumer electronics or computer-related accessories

32%

Jewelry

23.2%

Home decor

23.1%

Personal care or beauty items

20.6%

Sporting goods or leisure items

18.8%

Home improvement or tools

17.1%

Other

6.6%

Source: National Retail Federation

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