BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Many Maryland shoppers returned to brick and mortar stores for Black Friday in search of deals. Amber Dupre was among them. She picked up a new tv at the Timonium Best Buy.
“I got this tv for $549, and it’s usually like $1000,” Dupre told WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren. “I haven’t seen any arguments. somebody just gave me their parking space, so I was like, ‘Today is going to be a good day.’”
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Shoppers were back out in force in Maryland this #BlackFriday. We’ll look at the challenges for retailers from supply issues to staffing shortages on CBSN Baltimore at 6 and WJZ at 7 @wjz pic.twitter.com/AN1iEO31KV
— Mike Hellgren (@HellgrenWJZ) November 26, 2021
Meghan Caine also found some bargains. “Yeah, I just got a good deal on a tv. I just purchased a mattress and got a great deal on that. I’m finding them,” Caine said.
Both shoppers were excited to return to Black Friday traditions after many stayed home in 2020 because of the pandemic. “I like getting back in. I’m all about the vaccine, all about the booster so we can get back out there and do things normally,” Caine said.
WJZ saw plenty of people hitting the stores at Towson Town Center where mall managers say they’re seeing foot traffic at least on par with 2019.
“People like going to stores when they are buying gifts. They like to touch a product, feel it, see it,” said Katherine Cullen of the National Retail Federation.
And many started their shopping earlier—fearing stores will run out of hot items—as they deal with supply chain problems. Stores launched deals earlier too. “Almost half of shoppers started buying and browsing before November. That is up about 42 percent from last year,“ Cullen said.
This year, many families have built up substantial savings to spend.
“There is a yearning to get back to a feeling of normal, so in-store shopping is one way to accomplish that,” said Bryan Cannon, the CEO and chief portfolio strategist at Cannon Advisers, which tracks consumer spending and holiday shopping trends.
Some consumers could find the experience distressing, however, as retailers grapple with supply-chain issues and staffing challenges. For the month of November, out-of-stock messages online are up 261% compared to two seasons ago, according to the Adobe Digital Economy Index.
Widespread shipping delays have led many consumers to take advantage of deals in advance of Black Friday to ensure they get their hands on the season’s most in-demand products.READ MORE: 1 Man Killed, 2 Wounded In Trio Of Baltimore Shootings, Police Say
Roughly 70 percent of shoppers surveyed by consulting firm Deloitte said they had already started their holiday shopping by the last week of October. Eighty percent of early shoppers’ budgets are expected to be spent by the end of the Thanksgiving period.
“As supply chain challenges continue to snowball, holiday shoppers have quickly realized that a turtle dove in the hand is worth two in the bush,” said Stephen Rogers, executive director of Deloitte Insights Consumer Industry Center. “While spending during the Thanksgiving period will be on the rise, overall participation will be down slightly. Many shoppers have already secured their wish-list items and taken advantage of retailers’ ‘rolling Black Friday’ offers. That said, early holiday shoppers are still set to spend more over Thanksgiving, demonstrating a merry opportunity for both in-store and online retailers.”
Last year’s preference for online shopping has given way to consumer plans to shop both on- and offline. Boston Consulting Group predicts that more consumers will return to stores on Black Friday this year, with 48 percent saying they prefer a hybrid shopping experience.
Another feature of this year’s shopping season that could frustrate shoppers are higher prices on goods. Toys, clothing, appliances and electronics are expected to cost between 5% and 15% more on average, according to Aurelien Duthoit, senior sector adviser at Allianz Research. TVs will see the highest price spikes on average, up 17 percent from a year ago, according to the research firm.
In part because of the higher prices, consumer spending levels are expected to break records this season, with the National Retail Federation predicting an increase in sales of between 8.5 percent and 10.5 percent compared to the 2020 holiday period.
“I think it is going to be a messy holiday season,” said Neil Saunders, managing director at GlobalData Retail. “It will be a bit frustrating for retailers, consumers and the workers. We are going to see long lines, we are going to see messier stores, we are going to see delays as you collect online orders.”
Retailers that adequately staff up and strike the right balance of enforcing COVID-19 protocols while also creating a stress-free experience for customers will win the holiday, according to one analyst.
“A huge struggle for retailers is going to be matching labor to the demand,” Cannon of Cannon Advisers said. “It’s critical that the retailer gets it right — to capture that consumer demand. If they are not abiding by social-distancing protocols or masking up or are not making the shopper feel comfortable, you might lose the loyalty of the shopper down the road.”
Retailers are also getting ready for Small Business Saturday this weekend with special deals.
This weekend, millions of Americans will participate in Small Business Saturday — a day to show support for our new, small and or local businesses by shopping small.
Where will you be shopping small this Saturday? Let us know in the comments below!
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) November 24, 2021
Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott is encouraging people to share their small business shopping experiences online using the hashtag #BMore2Baltimore.MORE NEWS: Weather Cancellations: Maryland Schools, Businesses & Government Offices