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Buffalo State Experts: Black Friday and Shopping Trends

Buffalo State Experts: Black Friday and Shopping Trends

Posted: December 2, 2014

If you didn’t feel like battling the crowds over the Thanksgiving weekend, that doesn’t mean your chance to find deep discounts has passed.

Bargains will continue to materialize between now and Christmas, predicts Diane McFarland, associate professor of communication, who studies marketing trends.

Black Friday has lost some of its allure now that many retailers are open on Thanksgiving and more consumers are flocking to online sites rather than to the mall.

"What we're really seeing now is a Black Friday season," said McFarland. "Retailers have discovered that the public is going to wait for the best prices, so they do whatever they can to lure shoppers not just on the Friday after Thanksgiving but the Monday after and then the rest of the holiday season."

According to the National Retail Federation, spending on Black Friday itself fell in 2013 for the first time since 2009, at the height of the Great Recession, prompting concerns that the day itself is losing its unique appeal. And over the entire past weekend, spending fell 11 percent from last year, to $50.9 billion from $57.4 billion.

"Traditionally, what singled Black Friday out from other special shopping days is that consumers could find prices that they wouldn't see the rest of the year," McFarland said. "Except for a few items, such as televisions, that isn't so much the case anymore."

McFarland suspects that many shoppers weren't part of the Black Friday crowds because they are holding out for better deals in the weeks to come.

"They’ve been trained to do that from what sales they’ve seen in recent years."

At the same time, she noted that the online payment system PayPal has experienced an upswing in sales since September.

"I think for some people the holiday season begins the first of October. They are pacing their shopping more now that they can go online and get good deals."

Another newer trend, shopping with local, independent retailers, was celebrated this past weekend, too, on Small Business Saturday.

Compared with much of the country, Buffalo, home to myriad independent restaurants, coffeehouses and retail stores, is a paradise for shopping local.

"We're very devoted to our local stores," said McFarland. "There is a lot of support for local businesses here."

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