Somewhere between putting away Halloween decorations and thawing out the Thanksgiving turkey, consumers are formulating their holiday shopping strategies.
Some would rather pass on Thanksgiving dishes and TV football games to get out of the house with loved ones for Black Friday shopping in the stores.
“It’s a tradition for my mom and I to go, even if it’s a lot of window shopping,” Barbie Green-Abernathy said.
The Daily News asked readers on Facebook if they plan to do Black Friday shopping online or in stores. Some said their shopping is already done. Others said they will share handmade gifts and experiences this year. Many will support local small businesses as much as they can.
The pandemic is still causing supply chain disruptions that are keeping food and other consumer goods from reaching store shelves among other concerns such as rising prices.
More: ‘Supply chain crisis’: Meat, bakery shortages could affect the upcoming Onslow holiday season
“With stores removing the layaway system this year, shopping will be difficult. Since COVID, we had to plan ahead with grabbing clearance deals and catching sales throughout the year,” Sarah Ward commented. “With prices rising with food, gas and utilities, we’re lucky to have what we do for the holidays.”
The analytics and advisory company Gallup has asked people about their Christmas spending plans every October and November since 1989. In last month’s poll, 64 percent of Americans said they plan to spend the same amount on gifts as they did last year. Thirteen percent anticipate spending more, and 22 predict they will spend less.
The average amount people personally expect to spend on gifts this year is $837, slightly up from $805 in 2020. Predicted spending in 2019 peaked at $942 just before the pandemic sent the economy spiraling.
The holidays usually promise seasonal employment that helps make ends meet for some families. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the unemployment rate has trended steadily downward since the spring. The unemployment rate in Jacksonville was at 4.7 percent in August, and the state’s rate was 4.2 percent in September.
Even though shoppers know businesses will be short-staffed and understocked this holiday season, they are determined to find the best holiday deals. That may mean mixing up shopping strategies.
“You can buy online usually for a cheaper price then elect in store pickup,” Randy Smith commented. “I’ll probably stay away from Black Friday shopping. Crowds are not for me.”
Jennifer Dezarn said she will shop online.
“No Black Friday shopping, especially if it’s on Thanksgiving Day. That is a family holiday and stores should be closed,” Dezarn said.
But many stores will be open on Thanksgiving. Locally, shoppers can hit up Big Lots, CVS, Dollar General, Family Dollar, Five Below, Michael’s, Old Navy and Walgreens. Outside of discount stores and pharmacies, most department stores – including Target and Walmart – are saying no to Thanksgiving Day sales in stores.
Burlington, Big Lots and Kendall’s Hallmark Shop are some of the few stores offering layaway plans locally this year.
The Marine Corps Exchange at Camp Lejeune and other big box retailers discontinued their layaway programs years ago.
Walmart announced this year layaway is no longer an option at its stores. The retail giant started phasing it out last year with the exception of jewelry at select stores. Walmart has replaced layaway with a buy now, pay later service through Affirm that allows shoppers to take purchases home immediately and make payments with a 10- to 30-percent annual percentage rate based on credit.
Big Lots offers a program similar to layaway with price hold and monthly payments on furniture. Progressive leasing is now offered on qualifying furniture, seasonal items, small appliances and other higher ticket items for a $49 deposit and 90-day purchase option. Big Lots offers a store credit card with deferred interest plans and a soft credit check that won’t ding credit scores.
Black Friday shopping a decade ago was worth dealing with the crowds and long hours to get a good deal on certain items. That’s not the case in 2021.
“There is no need to stay up until midnight standing in line all night long to save $43 on a 2019 year’s model TV. I’d rather take advantage of online deals and shop year-round,” Josh Davenport commented. “I once saw two women throwing their Starbucks drinks at each other and going to blows over discounted iPods. Not worth it.”
Another local store with the layaway option is Kendall’s Hallmark Shop at Cross Pointe Center. Kendall’s offers layaway for Crown Rewards card members, a free rewards program to get coupons and discounts throughout the year. Once the go-to for greeting cards and holiday ornaments, Hallmark now sells candles, jewelry, home décor, books, clothing, bath and body products, kitchen novelties, accessories and more. Layaway purchases require a 20 percent down payment and should be paid off and picked up in store by Dec. 15.
At a time when people crave “normal” more than ever, the small window of Black Friday shopping might offer that experience. Cyber Monday, the online equivalent of Black Friday, might blend right in with the past 18 months of pandemic life.
“Black Friday shopping in person is honestly a tradition at this point. Nothing says Thanksgiving like standing in line at Best Buy,” Shane Northcott said.