Black Friday Had Lower Crowds Than Expected In Some Places: Are Americans Experiencing Black Friday Fatigue?

A Target store in Raleigh was practically empty, while a Tallahassee Best Buy had crowds that were no bigger than any other Friday.

An empty retail store.
Focus and Blur / Shutterstock

A Target store in Raleigh was practically empty, while a Tallahassee Best Buy had crowds that were no bigger than any other Friday.

Black Friday crowds failed to turn up in at least two U.S. cities, and more than one retail analyst is convinced that the shopping holiday is slowly becoming a thing of the past.

For years now, Black Friday — the unofficial opening of the Christmas shopping season — has been the scene of huge crowds, lines down the street, and even people camping out overnight in order to snag once-in-a-lifetime deals. So extreme have been the excesses of Black Friday that more than one store has seen the crowds divulge into verbal altercations, fistfights, or even riots.

And in a couple of places, at least, it seems that the enthusiasm for black Friday may be waning.

In Raleigh, North Carolina, for example, shoppers are posting pictures on social media of largely-empty stores.

Lee Hilts tells WDTV (Raleigh-Durham) that he’s all about Black Friday.

“I do a little bit of research every Wednesday morning to see what I want to get.”

However, when he went to his favorite big-box retailer in Raleigh in the wee hours of Friday morning, armed with his knowledge of Black Friday deals cross-referenced with his wife and daughters’ Christmas lists — and accompanied by a WDTV reporter — he didn’t find the pandemonium that he expected. Instead, he found a mostly-empty store.

The situation was similar over in Tallahassee. WTXL-TV (Tallahassee) reporter Jada Williams went to a local Best Buy to get a live shot of the Black Friday crowds. There weren’t any. Instead, there was a crew of workers, sweeping up and getting the store ready for a normal day of business. At this point it bears noting, however, that Williams was there hours before store opening. Although there were no long lines — or people camping out at the time — they may yet have shown up in force by the time of this writing.

In fact, Black Friday may be slowly winding down — at least, from its peak craziness of a couple of years ago. That’s the opinion of Vox writer Gaby Del Valle.

She writes that a few things have contributed to the beginning of the end of the unofficial holiday. The first is the fact that retailers are expanding Black Friday sales and hours into Thanksgiving Day itself — much to the annoyance of many Americans who fear that it encroaches on the traditional family time. Another is the emergence of so-called “Cyber Monday,” when online retailers roll out deals for shoppers who would rather not leave the comfort of their home.

However, it bears noting that elsewhere across the U.S. today, other stores have been inundated with Black Friday shoppers as per usual. So while Black Friday may or may not be past its prime, it still has a long way to go before it’s over.