Black Friday expected to draw plenty of Las Vegas shoppers

Black Friday is no longer a one-day shopping extravaganza that jumpstarts the holiday shopping season — it’s morphed into a week of deals kicking off as early as Monday for brands such as H&M, Gap, Target and Walmart.

Lauren Willis, a Walmart spokeswoman, said the store’s Black Friday deals started Monday on its website at 4 p.m. PST and continues in stores when they open at 5 a.m. Friday.

“We’re super excited this year,” said Willis. “I think we’re in a really strong position to serve our customers this holiday season. We’ve been watching the evolving shopping behaviors and we’ve been listening (to customers). I think because of that we’re going to be able to meet people’s needs.”

Consumer spending has been strong over the past several months, surprising economists as many thought consumers would hold off on purchases amid inflation woes. And retailers aren’t complaining because the early start means shoppers will likely ring in a blockbuster holiday shopping season.

Big turnout expected

An estimated 1.6 million Nevadans are expected to hit the checkout line over the five-day Thanksgiving long weekend that includes Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, according to the Retail Association of Nevada.

“Nevada’s retailers are expecting the high demand consumer shopping behaviors to continue through the holiday season,” Bryan Wachter, RAN’s senior vice president, said in a statement. “The supply chain is working overtime to get this year’s hottest products on the shelves for the holiday shopping season.”

Nationally, nearly 2 million more people are expected to shop the five-day weekend this year compared with number of shoppers last year, according to the National Retail Federation.

NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement that customers also are getting head starts on their shopping.

“Black Friday stopped being a one-day event years ago, and this year some consumers started shopping for Christmas as early as Halloween,” said Shay.

Fewer mandates, more options

Fashion Show Las Vegas Senior Marketing Manager Esther Sarpong said this year also marks a very different shopping experience for residents.

“All those guidelines that were in place last year — it made shopping look a little different,” she said.

Last year, Nevadans were encouraged to stay home as COVID-19 cases remained high. But those who ventured outside for deals found that stores over 50,000 square feet had to count visitors to ensure compliance with the state’s 50 percent capacity limits. There were also social distancing measures and a mask mandate.

“This year, with just the mask mandate we’re expecting a really great holiday season,” said Sarpong.

The more than 2-million-square-foot shopping center also has been preparing its parking lots to ensure guests can seamlessly make their way from car to store, she said.

RAN reported 68.2 percent of shoppers plan to camp out or start their day early on Black Friday. Cyber Monday, the second-busiest shopping day, will see 39.7 percent of shoppers participating in the online shopping event.

Thanksgiving Day is the least popular shopping day with 19.3 percent of shoppers planning to head to stores, down from 24 percent in 2019. That figure may decline even more as a growing number of retailers close for Thanksgiving, including Las Vegas North and South Premium Outlets, which will be closed, and Target, which announced Monday its Thanksgiving Day store closings would be permanent.

Sarpong said those who feel uneasy about shopping in person or want to avoid the crowds can try the mobile platform Dropit, which offers Fashion Show shoppers complimentary curbside pickup service.

Dropit allows customers to order online or by phone from a store and select a pick-up time. The mobile app also allows customers shopping in stores to have their bags delivered to their home or hotel within 25 miles of Fashion Show.

Kohl’s announced last week it was also taking steps to ease the shopping experience for customers this year, adding that it was adding more curbside pickup parking spots and piloting a self-pick up service, where customers can grab their online orders using a personalized link without waiting in line.

Willis of Walmart said the retailer has also beefed up its shopping options for customers, adding that store delivery hours will be extended with additional delivery windows.

“We started doing it more last year and we just increased the options this year,” she said. “We’re really excited and we’re really encouraging folks to shop online or come into the stores.”

Contact Subrina Hudson at [email protected] Follow @SubrinaH on Twitter.