For many Minnesotans, Black Friday felt a lot like it did before the pandemic.
There were almost no masks, no capacity rules, no distance signs and no glass between the kids and Santa Claus.
But in many ways, Black Friday is no longer the hectic marathon it was in the decade before the pandemic. With many sales starting weeks ago, most of the early morning shoppers and long lines of shoppers are gone. Inflation was our top priority and many buyers spoke of sticking to budgets.
“I definitely want a good deal. If it’s not a good deal, I won’t buy it,” said Julie Nessly of Chanhassen, as she headed to the Scheels store in Eden Prairie Center just before 7 a.m.
Nessly and her daughter-in-law arrived at Scheels when it opened looking for ideas for their outdoorsy husbands and to get some bargains before they left.
But at Southdale Center in Edina, the state’s oldest mall, there were only 20 cars in the Macy’s parking lot when the mall’s general manager, Judy Tullius, arrived shortly before its 6 a.m. opening.
“The way people shop has definitely changed,” she said. “Macy’s has Black Friday deals all week so there was no incentive to show up at 6 a.m.”
The holiday shopping season stretched back into the pandemic years, when people were shopping online more in 2020 due to health concerns, and earlier in 2021 due to supply chain issues.
This year, retailers started promotions last month to help mitigate excess inventory. However, most of the revenue gains they were making were due to prices forming at the highest rate of inflation in 40 years.
US retail sales rose 7.9% in October, however, when adjusted for inflation, sales volume fell 0.4%, according to analytics firm GlobalData.
The National Retail Federation — the largest retail group — expects holiday sales growth in store and online to slow to a range of 6% to 8%, from 13.5% last year. However, these numbers have not been adjusted for inflation. Indeed, real spending may be lower than it was a year ago.
According to a study by consulting firm Accenture, 54% of Twin Cities consumers, the most of any metro area surveyed, plan to shop in stores this holiday.
“Black Friday or Cyber Monday may not have been as popular as it could have been,” said Kelsey Robinson, a senior partner in the San Francisco office of McKinsey & Co.
The largest crowd in the Twin Cities at the start of Black Friday was at the largest mall: More than 10,000 people entered the Mall of America in Bloomington within the first hour after its 7 a.m. opening.
Hayley Rust, 14, of Lakeville, said she was thrilled to join her mom and aunt on their first morning ride to the mall. “They did [for awhile] Finally we will go this year.
While out hunting for deals, Rust said she really longed for the chance to be in the crowd and explore the mall.
“Experience is key,” said Jill Renslow, executive vice president of business development and marketing for the mall.
“We are much more than a shopping mall, and the key to our success is diversifying all our uses from retail, dining, entertainment and hospitality,” she said.
In downtown Minneapolis, an old tradition is being revived at the site of the Dayton Department Store, which anchored the Twin Cities’ retail scene for most of the 20th century. The Santa Bears, which first sold Dayton’s for $10 in 1984, are now up for sale again at what is now called the Dayton Project.
The Dayton store created new versions of the Santa Bear annually through 2007. Shoppers have built collections of stuffed bears. Dayton has produced TV specials about them, and even worked with General Mills At a Santa Bear promotion with Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal.
The Santa Bears Collection is also part of the Holiday Show Window at the Dayton Project, which is located along Nicollet Mall between 7th and 8th Streets.
In Loring Park on the edge of downtown, craft vendors, food trucks, and artists geared up for the annual Holidazzle event, which will take place on weekends through December 18th.
By mid-morning, the parking lot at the Target store in Edina filled up. Edina’s Rebecca Peterson had a list of potential gifts as she shopped the toy aisle for Pokemon characters. In addition to her three children, she also donates gifts to three different families during the holidays.
“Now I’m trying to figure out what works best, and it’s like when I’m in the store, I can find the best options for them and I can ask other kids for advice,” she said.
By Friday afternoon, with the sun shining and temperatures in the mid-40s, it was nearly impossible to find a parking spot at Twin Cities Premium Outlets in Egan.
“We’re seeing some big crowds,” said Sarah Dorian, the center’s director of marketing.
While Black Friday is no longer a craze, the holiday season is expected to be a comeback of sorts for the traditional retail store, said Jill Standish, Accenture’s global retail leader.
“I really think this is going to be an actual holiday in store, and it’s going to be really fun to watch,” she said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
“Pop culture junkie. Tv aficionado. Alcohol ninja. Total beer geek. Professional twitter maven.”