Black Friday loses some luster

Even with mask restrictions lifted, the 2021 Black Friday shopping spree may fall short of expectations compared with previous years.

In the week before Thanksgiving, Forbes said internet searches for “Black Friday 2021” have dropped to less than half the number of searches in 2019―though this year remains even with 2020 search levels.

Instead of waiting for Thanksgiving weekend deals, shoppers are starting earlier—in part because of supply chain issues and inflationary pressures affecting the entire country.

Online retail sales from January through October increased 57 percent in 2021 compared with 2019, according to an Adobe report. Adobe said shoppers encountered more than 2 billion “out of stock” messages in October alone, up 325 percent from 2019 and 250 percent from last year.

“Despite earlier deals this season, discounts are weaker across several categories,” Adobe’s report said.

Of the categories Adobe released, all but two had shallower discounts than last year. Computer discounts increased from 11.9 to 12.4 percent, and toys saw a bigger jump from 7.5 to 15.9 percent.

At Oaks Mall, David Young mans a Cutco Cutlery booth in the median of the shopping concourse.

He set up the booth Friday morning for a month-long stint at the mall and said traffic had been pretty good.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Young said. “It’s going to be a very long holiday season.”

Shoppers lined up outside Pandora. Up a set of stairs and down the row, employees at Bath & Body Works handed out white perfume cards to passersby.

One of the employees said she was surprised the store wasn’t busier but said it was still early. She added that people seemed happy to be out shopping.

Shopper Barbara Faist didn’t have anything large on her list. She said her daughter wanted a Roomba to help pick up dog hair, and Faist stopped by Claires for some kids’ items.

She said the family always goes out to shop around Thanksgiving.

This year, she arrived at the mall around 9 a.m. and called it “a little bit of a ghost town,” but she said people started coming in quicker around 10 a.m.

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