National Retail Federation expects 166 million Black Friday shoppers this year

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FILE- In this Friday, Nov. 25, 2011, file photo, a crowd of shoppers wait outside the Target store in Lisbon, Conn., before the store opens for Black Friday shopping at midnight. The National Retail Federation expects the total number of shoppers to reach 166.3 million from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday. (AP Photo/The Day, Sean D. Elliot, File)

The National Retail Federation expects the total number of shoppers to reach 166 million from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday.

Despite the projection, factors like COVID-19 and more store fronts closing for the Thanksgiving weekend explain a decrease in in-person shopping on Black Friday over the past few years, studies by the NRF showed.

Students and faculty at BYU shared their thoughts about Black Friday, and several prefer to shop online. 

“From a retail standpoint, it’s the most important day of the year,” Michelle Hyde, an adjunct professor in the School of Family Life, said about Black Friday.

Hyde worked in retail at Nordstrom for several years before becoming a professor at BYU.

“I think that retailers offer legitimate deals in order to get people into their stores,” Hyde said. 

Hyde explained that stores look for ways to expand their profit opportunities, especially in their number one season — Christmas. 

“You can only put 24 hours in a day,” Hyde said, which is why online and in-person sales start earlier every year in the month of November. 

Statistics from the National Retail Federation show that 67% of Black Friday shoppers will shop in person. Although the total number of Black Friday shoppers has decreased over the past three years, the number of shoppers for Black Friday weekend is expected to increase in 2022. (Made in Canva by Liesel Allen)

Hyde remembered waiting outside stores on Black Friday mornings as a kid and wading through snowstorms to find the greatest sales.

“You couldn’t catch me out on a Black Friday morning now,” Hyde said. “I have my laptop so there’s no need to fight the crowds.”

Unlike Hyde who grew up Black Friday shopping, BYU junior Becca Watkins said her family was never into the Friday shopping spree.

Instead, Watkins shops online and looks forward to Cyber Monday more than Black Friday.

“You’re already getting deals online throughout the week, so I’m less motivated to go,” Watkins said.

Similarly, BYU senior Maria Bacon did not grow up participating in Black Friday. 

“My parents aren’t big Black Friday people,” Bacon said.

Bacon said she loves online shopping, though, and referred to November as “Cyber November,” a nod to the ongoing online sales that occur throughout the month.

For other students, such as Evelyn Alton, a junior studying elementary education and Portuguese, Black Friday escapes her notice every year, overshadowed by Thanksgiving.

“Usually I opt outside,” BYU senior Solstice Welling said.

#OptOutside is a campaign started by REI, an outdoor retail store, in 2015.

REI has not hosted any Black Friday sales for the past seven years, opting to give employees that day off and encouraging them and their customers to go outside instead.

“I’d rather take the time and do something more meaningful like being outside or going on a hike,” Welling said. 

Instead of engaging in in-person shopping on Black Friday, Welling creates a list of things she needs and intentionally buys them throughout the year via online vendors. 

“Consumer behavior changes with age and income,” Hyde said. 

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