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Black Friday Crowds Will Be Much Smaller This Year

But it's still a beacon of hope for struggling stores
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 27, 2020 4:50 AM CST

(Newser) – After months of slumping sales and businesses toppling into bankruptcy, Black Friday is offering a small beacon of hope. In normal times, Black Friday is the busiest shopping day of the year, drawing millions of shoppers eager to get started on their holiday spending. But these are not normal times: The economy is tanking and crowds are expected to be dramatically diminished as coronavirus cases spike and shoppers do more of their purchases online. Many retailers closed their doors on Thanksgiving but are beefing up their safety protocols to reassure wary customers that they can still come back the next day, the AP reports. For those who can't be reassured, stores are moving their doorbuster deals online and ramping up curbside pickup options as a last grasp at sales before the year ends and they head into the dark days of winter with the pandemic still raging.

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The National Retail Federation, the nation's largest retail trade group, has taken an optimistic view, predicting that shoppers will be looking for reasons to celebrate. Retailers were successful in convincing shoppers to spend early by pushing big discounts in mid-October. And shoppers have shown their willingness to spend for other holidays like Easter and Halloween. The trade group expects sales for the November and December period to increase between 3.6% and 5.2% over 2019. Online sales could realize even bigger gains heading into the holidays. Black Friday is projected to generate $10 billion in online sales, a 39% bump from a year ago, according to Adobe Analytics. And Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving, will remain the biggest online shopping day of the year with $12.7 billion in sales, a 35% jump.

(Read more Black Friday stories.)

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