Wisconsinites Head To Shopping Centers For Black Friday

Retail Industry Expects Good Day For Sales In State

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Walmart on Black Friday
Gunnar Rathbun/AP Photo

Wisconsin residents make their way to shopping centers and malls across the state for Black Friday, the country’s busiest in-store shopping day of the year.

Retail sales between November and December are expected to grow by about 4 percent nationally compared to 2016, according to the National Retail Federation, a Washington D.C.-based trade and lobbying organization for the retail industry.

Sales in Wisconsin are expected to keep pace with national numbers, or exceed them slightly, according to Jerry O’Brien, executive director of the Kohl’s Center for Retailing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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“The good news is consumer confidence looks like it’s pretty good right now, and that may be one of the tales for how this holiday season goes,” O’Brien said.

The kickoff to holiday shopping is followed by Cyber Monday, the Monday after Black Friday when many retailers offer deals and sales to their online customers. Last year online sales totals for both days were nearly even nationally, with Black Friday bringing in a total of $3.34 billion, and Cyber Monday a total of $3.39 billion, according to Adobe Digital Insights. The firm gathers data by measuring 80 percent of all online transactions from the top 100 American retailers.

O’Brien expects Wisconsin to follow national trends this year, but said in the Midwest, things like weather factor into shoppers’ decisions as they weigh shopping at brick and mortar stores and staying home to shop online.

“If we get a blizzard and someone was planning on shopping, they may just decide to sit down at their kitchen table and do their shopping,” O’Brien said.

For those that opt for in-store shopping, the competition between newer, outdoor malls, local neighborhood shopping, and traditional indoor malls will continue. O’Brien expects malls to have a good day on the whole, but says within mall sales there will be “winners and losers.”

While some stores open early for Black Friday, others opened Thursday, continuing a trend by some retailers to stay open on Thanksgiving Day. The decision to close or remain open on the holiday is a balancing act for stores, according to O’Brien.

“I think they’re trying to find out if they can get a balance of maybe a little less hours to still take care of their customers, but … take care of their employees too,” he said.

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