In a year of nothing normal, Black Friday a subdued scene

By KYW Newsradio

CHERRY HILL, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — Crowds of Black Friday shoppers are smaller this year than in previous years.

At the Walmart in Cherry Hill, big "door-buster" mobs seem like a distant memory. About 30 people were lined up to enter the store when it opened at 5 a.m.

Shopper Elaine Jackson of North Philadelphia said the scene was a far cry from previous years.

“It’s quite an adventure,” she said. “Nobody has to push or shove or scream or anything just to get what they want.”

Shopper Nadine Harris was hoping to buy a PlayStation5 at Walmart. But when she learned the store didn’t have any, she decided to continue her search online.

“I’ve been doing a lot of online shopping, but it’s just been crashing,” she said. “So I said, 'Let me try to get up early and go to the store,' but that’s not working either. So I’m just going to keep trying online once I get home.”

Across the parking lot at he GameStop, 100 people were camped out — many of them since Wednesday — in the hopes of buying a PS5. However, many of them walked away disappointed. When the store opened at 7 a.m., shoppers learned there were only two in stock.

Jason Gates of Willingboro, N.J., managed to get one of them for his son Anthony. The pair spent Thanksgiving waiting in line.

Gates was philosophical about the trade-off. What is Thanksgiving, anyway, besides time with family, he said, adding he and his son had a great time. And with a PS5 box under his arm, he said, giving up Thanksgiving dinner was worth it.

With more shoppers staying home to avoid the coronavirus, shopping starting earlier in the season, and discounts starting earlier in November, subdued scenes like this look like the way Black Friday is going to go.

A Deloitte survey found that 61% of consumers planned to shop online compared with 54% who said they would be shopping in person. It's the first time a majority of shoppers said they would be trying their luck online.