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Chains simplified promotions this year and took a keener eye to managing their inventory. At Wal-Mart Stores Inc., colour-coded maps helped shoppers navigate the aisles. Retailers also made headway with their e-commerce sites, aiming to chip away at Amazon.com Inc.’s dominance online.
The weather also provided an assist, with cooler temperatures in much of the country putting shoppers in the mood for coats and sweaters. But the day wasn’t without its glitches. Macy’s Inc., the largest U.S. department-store chain, struggled to process credit-card transactions. That led to long lines and frustrated customers.
Many retailers are counting on the holidays to help fuel their turnaround plans, and Black Friday is the season’s traditional starting point. Still, the event has lost significance over the years — especially as chains spread out their promotions to attract shoppers earlier in November.
In the past, Black Friday was famous for crowds bursting through doors and fighting over $ 99 DVD players. There’s less urgency among shoppers now, but retailers have many advantages this year, including strong consumer confidence and low unemployment.
“We do this every year — we came here for fun,” said McCluskey, who arrived at Target with her two adult sons. “We do a lot of shopping online, but it’s a different experience shopping in stores. You can feel and touch and look at the products.”
E-commerce continues to outpace brick-and-mortar retail in sales growth, making it crucial for traditional stores to have enticing websites and apps.
Black Friday online spending was a record $ 5.03 billion, up 16.9 per cent over last year, according to Adobe Systems Inc. Much of that shopping is now occurring on phones, with mobile devices accounting for 54 per cent of visits. Adobe said it expects Cyber Monday to be the biggest online shopping day in history, with $ 6.6 billion in predicted sales, a 16.5 per cent increase over 2016.
Retailers have tried to avoid becoming showrooms for Amazon, meaning customers look at products in their stores and then buy it from the e-commerce giant. To keep shoppers from straying, Wal-Mart and others have pumped billions into their web operations.
Macy’s overhauled its rewards program, aiming to keep consumers loyal regardless of whether they’re online or off. A customer who shells out at least $ 500 a year gets free shipping and 25 per cent off a day of shopping.
But the 159-year-old chain also is touting its traditional retail experience as a way to hook shoppers.