Retailers heralded the unofficial start of the Christmas shopping season on Friday with larger crowds than last year, but the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic continues to weigh on the minds of businesses and shoppers.
Encouraged by solid employment, some salary gains and savings, customers returned to the stores on Black Friday and bought all kinds of goods.
Mariah Mazzilli counts herself as among the lucky people who have been employed during the entire pandemic.
So after getting a new phone, she went to the Apple Store in the Derby Street Shops in Hingham to shop with the iPhone XS she’s had the last few years, and bought herself a pair of earphones for $ 129. She also came away with a free $ 25 gift card.
“I usually get out at midnight to shop on Black Friday, but I did not do it this year because I felt like many stores were not participating in early shopping,” said Mazzilli, 23, of Abington.
REI on Derby Street was completely closed.
Mazzilli also started shopping early this month, she said, “a bit because I was not sure how many stores would have discounts and a bit because of the supply chain.”
Barnes and Noble had signs on the doors asking people to bring their own bags because even them were in short supply.
The increase in shoppers since last year has resulted in a limited selection in many stores as suppliers and retailers have been caught on flat foot. Lack of shipping containers and hauliers has delayed deliveries, while inflation continues to creep.
Megan Moynahan, 37, of Quincy, started shopping the second week of October because of concerns about supply chain problems and because she hopes to have no credit card debt for Christmas.
“Last November, I was definitely not out shopping because of the pandemic,” Moynahan said. “I was not safe at all.”
“This year I’m back to it,” she said at Barnes and Noble, where she bought a board game for her husband and “Churchill and Orwell” by Thomas E. Ricks for her father, another alum from Boston College, as a major in history.
Black Friday in-store and online sales rose 12% in the middle of the morning, according to MasterCard SpendingPulse, which tracks spending broadly across cards and cash. It was track below its 20% growth forecast for the day.
While Black Friday has a strong grip on Americans’ imagination as a day of crazy shopping, it has lost status over the past decade as stores opened on Thanksgiving and shopping moved to Amazon and other online retailers.
But shoppers like Moynahan prefer to shop in physical stores.
“They have more of a selection,” she said, “and sometimes you see something you didn’t think of.”
Cara Lydon went to Kohl’s on Derby Street with a friend and their daughters because they “wanted a girls’ day.” Along the way, Lydon found his daughter a Lands’ End hooded jacket for $ 170 for sale for $ 80.
“Compared to previous years, there was no one here,” she said. “I’m betting everyone’s shopping online.”
Online shopping remains huge, and online sales are expected to increase by 7% for the week following the massive 46% increase a year ago, when many shoppers stayed home, according to MasterCard.
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