Black Friday was lackluster in New York City, with fewer shoppers turning out in person due to fear of COVID-19 than in years past, despite it doing little to slow down bargain hunters in other parts of the country.
In Manhattan, Macy’s got off to a slow start, with no one lining up for opening despite it being one of the most well-known spots for deals.
Last year, the store was mobbed by 9am with people pushing their way through the doors.
Best Buy, which normally has lines around the block, was also quiet. The store opened at 5am in Union Square to welcome shoppers looking to score deals on TVs and home appliances.
Foot-fall picked up gradually throughout the day but was nowhere near to the level it was in 2019.
2020: There were hardly any shoppers in Macy’s on Friday morning as most New York bargain hunters stayed home and shopped online
2019: By contrast, this was the scene shortly after doors open in Macy’s last year, before the pandemic hit
It falls in line with how quiet the city has been since March, when thousands fled at the height of the COVID-19 crisis.
Shoppers noticed how much quieter it was.
‘I’m pretty surprised. It’s always full every other time, so when you just get to go in and look around, and there is a lot of stock right now, so that’s also pretty cool,’ 17-year-old Mauricio Solas told The New York Post after walking into Best Buy to purchase a VR headset.
The pandemic did nothing to slow down shoppers elsewhere.
Over the weekend, Americans are expected to spend between $755billion and $765billion – an increase from last year’s total of $729.1billion.
Most of the shopping will be done online. One poll by Deloitte found that online shopping would account for 58 percent of sales.
It means a whopping 40 percent of Americans are still happy going out in person.
On November 19, the CDC deemed ‘going shopping in crowded stores just before, on, or after Thanksgiving’ as a high-risk activity. The CDC urged people to limit any in-person shopping, including at supermarkets. Instead, the health agency recommends shopping online, visiting outdoor markets or using curbside pickup, where workers bring orders to you in the parking lot.
Traditionally, Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, has launched the holiday shopping season in the United States, with retailers offering steep discounts and turning a significant profit.
But during this pandemic-ridden year, major 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.
Black Friday is still expected to hold the title of the busiest shopping day this year after retailers were successful in convincing customers to spend early by pushing big discounts in mid-October.
Overall, the National Retail Federation forecasts US 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.
A man leaves Macy’s after shopping on Friday morning without having to battle against Black Friday crowds
People breezed into Best Buy, which opened at 5am to accommodate crowds, without having to line up
There weren’t any lines outside the Apple store on Fifth Avenue either. An assistant is shown talking to a shopper
Two women leave Saks Fifth Avenue on Friday morning. The department store saw nowhere near as many in-store shoppers
Costumers carry shopping bags in New York on Black Friday, November 27, 2020
Online sales could realize even bigger gains heading into the holidays with more than half of US shoppers expected to shop online on Black Friday.
Black Friday is projected to generate $10 billion in online sales, a 39 per cent bump from the year ago period, according to Adobe Analytics, which measures sales at 80 of the top 100 US online retailers.
Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving, will remain the biggest online shopping day of the year with $12.7 billion in sales, a 35 per cent jump.
‘After all they’ve been through, we think there’s going to be a psychological factor that they owe it to themselves and their families to have a better-than-normal holiday,’ said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz.
‘There are risks to the economy if the virus continues to spread, but as long as consumers remain confident and upbeat, they will spend for the holiday season.’
A Walmart spokeswoman said the world’s largest retailer was not selling traditional ‘hot-ticket doorbuster’ items in stores this Black Friday.
But even as health officials around the globe encouraged people to stay home and shop online, Walmart set aside some deals only for shoppers who came into its stores – advertising items including ‘in-store only’ savings on $5 packs of Wonder Nation’s girls’ and boys’ underwear and socks.
The spokeswoman declined to comment on the ads.