Online takes a back seat to in-person shopping this year

Shopping
Shopping(Live 5 News)
Published: Nov. 26, 2021 at 5:48 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 27, 2021 at 5:24 AM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Dorian Wrighten and her son are two of the 158 million people the National Retail Federation says will be shopping during the Black Friday weekend.

“They’re really into clothes now,” Wrighten said. “They’re into clothes. They’re into electronics, shoes. I’m into trying to reap my money back.”

Black Friday is back and local malls are bracing for a strong return to in-person shopping. Stacey Keating with the Northwoods Mall says they’re seeing more customers and sales are bouncing above pre-pandemic levels.

“I think over the last several months we have seen sales rebound to pre-pandemic levels and all of the industry expectations are that we are going to see sales increase from 8.5% to 10.5%,” Keating said. “Two million more people will be shopping this Black Friday weekend than they were last year.”

With supply chains mangled and shelves emptier than usual, Keating says they expect and are already observing people getting their holiday shopping done early and in-person.

“The best way to ensure that you have gifts under the Christmas tree on Christmas morning is to shop in stores,” Keating said. “Because the closer you get to Christmas, the more likely you are to encounter shipping delays or merchandise issues.”

The National Retail Federation polled shoppers with 64 percent of them saying they plan to shop in stores on Black Friday – up from 51 percent last year.

“We certainly saw online sales grow last year when people were stuck in their homes and malls were shut down for a period of time, but I think that only illustrated how important the in-person experience is,” Keating said. “People really want that experience and there’s no better time to come to the mall than during the holiday season.”

The rebound is helping small business owners like Brittany Burton who relies on the mall’s foot traffic make a living. This year Burton opened her stand in the mall called MT Collections.

“It’s so fun to see everybody with their families and to see them shop with me, I love it,” Burton said. “To come to my business, to spend their money with me, it just makes me feel like . . .wow. It’s amazing. Online has kind of taken a toll, in store is much better.”

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