Black Friday is Back But at What Cost?
by Julia Toomey
The holiday season brings excitement and joy, along with the inevitable pressure to get the perfect gift. This year, Black Friday shoppers scrambled to malls and department stores near and far starting in the early hours of the morning to late into the night to complete their gift shopping, while others chose to shop online at their leisure from the comfort of their homes as it was convenient for them.
The pandemic put in person Black Friday shopping on hold for 2020, as many stores had little to no sales, lots of restrictions, or were completely closed altogether. As in-person shopping was near impossible, online shopping reached a record high of 100 million consumers that same year.
This year, people continued to shop online, even though stores have reopened. So, there were not the expected lines out the door as seen on previous Black Fridays.
According to preliminary data from Sensormatic Solutions, traffic at stores on Black Friday in 2021 dropped 28.3 percent compared with 2019 levels. With crowds being nearly 30 percent smaller, those who did go enjoyed the benefits of emptier stores.
For sophmore Emiliano Garcia, the smaller crowds made his shopping easier as the lines weren’t wrapping around the store.
“It wasn’t as chaotic as I thought. I think definitely with COVID… people are a little afraid to go out more, but it wasn’t too busy overall. It wasn’t bad” Garcia said.
For some, the lack of foot traffic was a relief and a time saver, but for others, it took away from the Black Friday experience. Junior Savanna Sharp looks forward to Black Friday shopping in person and the atmosphere of the crowds every year.
“It’s kind of part of like the holiday season for me,” Sharp said.
Another reason people have stopped shopping in person has been attributed to a lack of deals. As stores began their holiday sales in early November they weren’t as drastic on Black Friday.
“I didn’t feel like I saved any money,” Sharp said.
Junior Savanna Whitaker, who did most of her shopping online found most of the deals satisfactory.
“I felt like the online deals were a lot better than going to the actual store,” Whitikaer said.“I guess that’s mainly the reason I mostly shopped online, for the deals.”
According to Adobe Statistics, Black Friday discounts ranged from 5 percent to 25 percent off in 2021, which is drastically smaller than discounts from before 2020. Junior Catie Underhill recalls past Black Friday deals that are much better than the recent ones.
“In 2018 I got matching pajamas for a whole friend group for $20 from Menards,” Underhill said.
Compared to the deals this year, it would be near impossible to find an offer like that.
“You just can’t find those kinds of deals anymore,” Underhill said.
Though in person deals have gotten smaller and online shopping is on the rise, in person shopping is still nowhere near obsolete.
A poll collected from the Ramparts Instagram account showed that 24 students did their Black Friday shopping online and 28 shopped in person. Despite the fact that the numbers are close now, we shouldn’t overlook that 24 online is a huge increase from what it would have been in 2019.
Whether it is online or in person, Sharp intends to Black Friday for many years to come.
“I will definitely continue to go Black Friday shopping in the future.”
Graphic by Julia Toomey