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Economy & Business

Holiday Shoppers Expected To Spend Most Money Online


As I probably don't have to remind you, today is Black Friday, when retailers traditionally begin turning a profit. NPR's Sonari Glinton has been out with shoppers since he got up from the Thanksgiving table last night. He is now at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw mall in South Los Angeles where he's been talking to people about their plans. We're going to listen to a little bit of what they have to say first.

CLAUDETTE JOHNSON: I've been to Black Fridays many times.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: She's a veteran.

JOHNSON: I'm a veteran.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: That's right.

JOHNSON: I am, and I hated them. They're crazy. They're nuts.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: She got up at 3 o'clock in the morning and got TVs.

JOHNSON: (Laughter).

GAIL OTERO: Yeah, I'm being a little bit more conservative.


OTERO: Just not knowing what to expect in this new administration.

KAREN KEARNS: You avoid the crowds, you avoid the parking, the hassle, and you get - sometimes you get better specials online.

SHAPIRO: That was Claudette Johnson, Gail Otero and Karen Kearns. And Sonari Glinton is on the line with us now. Hey, there.

GLINTON: Hey, Ari.

SHAPIRO: Besides all the shoppers you've been talking to, you have been checking in with some economists and analysts. What are they saying about this Black Friday?

GLINTON: Well, we expect more foot traffic. The presidential election distracted shoppers, and so they're coming back after that. The stock market is good, so that means that people at the top end of the scale will have more money to spend. And also you might think that this isn't that important, but there isn't a big blockbuster in movie theaters like last year when there were "Star Wars" that hit right in the middle of shopping season. So we expect malls to be packed and people to be standing in lines, but it's not as big as it used to be.

SHAPIRO: Not as big as it used to be - why not? Especially when unemployment is low, wages are up, gas is cheap, seems like it would be a big deal.

GLINTON: Well, the election is one thing. A recent study by ShopTalk showed that people who are making less than $50,000 say that they're going to spend less because they're concerned about the election. Also, retailers are offering discounts literally that began at Halloween, so it's become more like Black November. And also, this has been an unseasonably warm year, so folks haven't had to invest in, you know, that heavy winter coat yet. And then finally there's the online sales where shoppers are getting smarter about finding deals.

SHAPIRO: It seems like we hear every year that online sales, mobile sales are growing. Are they threatening to overtake in-store sales?

GLINTON: Well, 1 in 6 dollars spent this holiday season will be spent online, and that's double what it was just a few years ago. Overall, retail is looking like it'll grow between - about 3.7 percent. But online sales - they're going to increase by 15 percent. So, Ari, people will still go out and stand in line and have fun, but Black Friday has kind of jumped the shark. It's like "The Godfather" - the third "Godfather." You know, it still has Al Pacino and Diane Keaton, but it's a little different. And that's the way Black Friday is going to be.

SHAPIRO: (Laughter) NPR's Sonari Glinton speaking with us from the Black Friday crowds in South Los Angeles. Thanks, Sonari.

GLINTON: Always a pleasure, my friend. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.