Traffic at stores on Black Friday fell by 52.1% compared with last year, as Americans by and large eschewed heading to malls and queuing up in lines for shopping online, according to preliminary data from Sensormatic Solutions.
For the six key weeks of the holiday season this year, traffic in retail stores is expected to be down 22% to 25% year over year, an earlier forecast by Sensormatic Solutions said.
“We knew Black Friday [traffic] was going to be down, we just didn’t know how much it was going to be down,” said Brian Field, a senior director of global retail consulting at Sensormatic Solutions. “Shoppers are spreading out their shopping throughout the holiday season because of concerns about social distancing and the pandemic.”
The Covid pandemic has pushed a record number of consumers to shop online, instead, as retailers place many of their top holiday doorbuster deals online and encourage shoppers to buy on the web and then pick up purchases curbside. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommended that Americans shop online the day after Thanksgiving.
Many malls looked bleak, and parking lots were more empty than full, across much of the country during the early hours of the morning Friday. Some reported traffic picking up later in the day, especially at outlet and open-air shopping centers, as some consumers felt more comfortable heading out. The warmer weather that blanketed much of the country also helped.
The typical peak time for shopping on Black Friday remained the same this year, hitting at about 2 p.m., Sensormatic Solutions said.
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