Is the Black Friday shopping tradition dying?

An advertisement board with Black Friday sales and deals at Best Buy (Yam Preisler/SFMN)

Some major Fort Lauderdale storefronts were left empty for most of the morning on Black Friday with hardly anyone waiting in line to catch the “doorbuster deals” when stores opened early for the unofficial holiday.  

This was in stark contrast to previous years, when people would stand in line for hours just to get “exclusive” one-day-only deals on Black Friday. 

Nowadays, many stores are offering month-long deals available online and in-person before Black Friday. Both consumers and retail employees are seeing lasting effects on shoppers’ buying habits.

“I’ve seen it die down over the years, and we’ve been stretching out sales more and more,” said Ralph Cadet, a Best Buy employee for over eight years. “Less and less people are coming on Black Friday.”

Despite seeing the smaller crowds, a recent survey by the National Retail Federation (NRF) found that about 77 million people were expected to be out shopping in-person on Black Friday, up from about 69.1 million from last year, but it’s still down from 2019 pre-pandemic numbers where 124 million people shopped in-person. The NRF also predicted 166.3 million people would be shopping between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday, making it the highest estimate since the NRF began tracking such data in 2017.

But some early in-person shoppers are still disappointed by the lack of turnout.  

Jake Tichon, 20, stood as the fourth person in a line of 10 people at a Best Buy in Fort Lauderdale, which manifested only two minutes before doors opened at 5 a.m. He came with his family, who all dressed in Christmas-themed clothing to do their holiday shopping and to buy earphones. He said they have gone out on the morning of Black Friday each of the past 15 years, but this year was different.   

“It’s a family tradition, we do it because it’s fun,” said Tichon. “But it’s not like it used to be. This year it’s sad, this line is sad.”

But even with fewer people out shopping in-person on Black Friday, Mastercard SpendingPulse, who reports on national retail sales, said in-store sales were up 12% year-over-year, yet their figures are not adjusted for inflation. 

Yam Hunter Preisler is a senior at Florida International University majoring in broadcast journalism. He is passionate about reporting on medical advancements. Yam is currently working as a freelance video editor.