Holiday shopping returned to normal this Black Friday
For many Minnesotans, Black Friday felt a lot like it did before the pandemic.
There were hardly any masks, no capacity rules, no distance signs and no glass between children and Santa Claus.
But in many ways, Black Friday was also no longer the frenetic marathon it was in the decade before the pandemic. With so many sales starting weeks ago, early morning door busters and long lines of customers were mostly gone. Inflation was top of mind and many buyers talked about sticking to budgets.
“I definitely want a good deal,” said Julie Nessly of Chanhassen as she walked into the Scheels store at the Eden Prairie Center just before 7 a.m. “If it̵[ads1]7;s not a good deal, I don’t want to buy it.”
Nessly and her daughter-in-law arrived at the Scheels store when it opened to look for ideas for their outdoor husbands and to get great deals before they were gone.
But at the Southdale Center in Edina, the state’s oldest mall, there were only 20 cars in the Macy’s parking lot when the mall’s general manager Judy Tullius arrived just before opening at 6 p.m. 06.00.
“The way people shop has definitely changed,” she said. “Macy’s has their Black Friday deals all week, so there was no incentive to come at 6am”
The holiday shopping season was extended during the pandemic years, as people shopped more online in 2020 due to health concerns and earlier in 2021 due to supply chain concerns.
This year, retailers started promotions last month to help offload a surplus of inventory. Still, most of the income gains were due to the perceived prices that have been shaped by the highest inflation rate in 40 years.
US retail sales rose 7.9% in October, but adjusted for inflation, volume sales were actually down 0.4%, according to research firm GlobalData.
The National Retail Federation — the largest retail trade group — expects in-store and online Christmas sales growth to slow to a range of 6% to 8%, from 13.5% growth a year ago. However, these figures are not adjusted for inflation. The real expenses may even be lower than a year ago.
According to a study by consulting firm Accenture, 54% of Twin Cities consumers, the most of any metro area they surveyed, plan to shop in-store this holiday season.
“Maybe it’s not as big a success of a Black Friday or Cyber Monday as it could have been,” said Kelsey Robinson, senior partner in the San Francisco office of McKinsey & Co. “It will still be two big, huge days of shopping.”
The biggest crowd in the Twin Cities at the start of Black Friday was at the biggest mall: More than 10,000 people entered the Mall of America in Bloomington in the first hour after opening at 10 p.m.
Hailey Rost, a 14-year-old from Lakeville, said she was happy to join her mother and aunt on a first-morning trip to the mall. “They have done it [for awhile] and we finally get to go this year,” she said.
While she was there to look for deals, Rost said she really just wanted the chance to be in the crowd and explore the mall.
“Experience is key,” said Jill Renslow, executive vice president of business development and marketing at the mall.
“We are so much more than a shopping center and the key to success is the diversification of all our uses from the retail, the dining attractions, the entertainment and the hospitality,” she said.
In downtown Minneapolis, a long-standing tradition was revived at the site of Dayton’s department store, which anchored the Twin Cities retail scene for much of the 20th century. Santa Bears, which Daytons first sold for $10 in 1984, were back on sale again at what is now called The Dayton’s Project.
Dayton’s store made new versions of the Santa Bear annually through 2007. Shoppers built collections of stuffed bears. Dayton produced TV specials about them, and even worked with General Mills on a Santa Bear promotion featuring Cinnamon Toast crunch cereal.
A collection of Santa Bears is also part of the holiday window at Dayton’s Project, located along Nicollet Mall between 7th and 8th streets.
In Loring Park on the edge of downtown, craft vendors, food trucks and artists line up for the annual Holidazzle event, which will take place weekends through December 18.
By mid-morning, the parking lot at the Target store in Edina was full. Rebecca Peterson of Edina had a list of potential gifts as she shopped in the toy aisle for Pokemon figures. In addition to her three children, she donates gifts to three different families during the holidays.
“Now I try to figure out what works best, and it feels like I’m in the store, I can find the best options for them, and I can ask other kids for advice,” she said.
On Friday afternoon, with the sun shining and temperatures in the mid-40s, it was nearly impossible to find a parking spot at the Twin Cities Premium Outlets in Eagan.
“We’re seeing some big crowds,” said Sarah Dorrian, the center’s director of marketing.
Although Black Friday is no longer a crazy streak, the holiday is expected to be a comeback of sorts for the brick-and-mortar store, said Jill Standish, Accenture’s global head of retail.
“I really think this is going to be a physical store holiday, which will be really fun to watch,” she said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.