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Black Friday looked different this year, and some are theorizing that it will never look the same again.
The entire holiday shopping season was upended by the coronavirus pandemic, with sales that started earlier and were mostly online. Retail trade group the National Retail Federation said that nearly 69% of retailers that responded to a survey said they expected consumers to start their holiday shopping in October, and the sales have been going ever since.
The organization projected that overall holiday spending would be slightly down, at $997.79 per consumer, but 60% of shoppers in its survey said they planned to do at least some holiday shopping online, in a year when e-commerce has boomed. Analysts from eMarketer predicted that holiday spending this year would total about $1 trillion, with a slight decrease in in-store sales but a 35% jump in online sales.
Read more: Retailers are struggling to attract seasonal workers for what experts anticipate will be a ‘tough holiday season’
The analysts predicted that as shoppers avoid crowds and are drawn in with monthlong sales, e-commerce spending would make up about $190 billion of the $1 trillion in holiday spending. So far, stores look mostly empty, while it remains to be seen if the bulk of online orders will exceed the capacity of shipping companies and cause delays.
Here’s how Black Friday is different this year.
Black Friday is no longer just one day
Amazon launched a separate page featuring celebrity-backed products during last year’s Prime Day. Amazon
Black Friday’s remaining connection to its namesake day is tenuous, at best. Sales arguably started with Amazon’s Prime Day in October, which itself was spread across two days. Other stores like Walmart responded with similar sales, kicking off the holiday shopping bonanza in a year of huge e-commerce growth.
“I don’t even know if I’d call it Black Friday anymore,” Boston Consulting Group’s head of retail, Nate Shenck, told Business Insider. Walmart, Target, and Best Buy, traditionally three of the biggest Black Friday sellers, each opted to spread deals across the entire month of November, instead of concentrating them on the day after Thanksgiving.
A major change from previous years was spreading sales across the month instead of packing them into one day. Deals were be divided by type of product, so electronics shoppers wouldn’t have to fight with home-goods buyers and parents picking up last-minute toys.
No more lining up in the middle of the night
© Getty Images
Black Friday sales previously crept earlier and earlier, into Thanksgiving itself as some stores released the biggest sales before dinner was even over. This year, though, most retailers reversed that trend, and may have ended it for good.
Most stores did not open on Thanksgiving this year, even the ones that traditionally have like Walmart and Target. On Black Friday, they opened slightly earlier than normal, but midnight openings were rare. JC Penney, Kohl’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and