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Black Friday not drawing shoppers like it used to

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 6 days ago Charisse Jones

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Video by CBS News

When it comes to holiday shopping sprees, Black Friday is no longer the prime event.

A new analysis finds that more shoppers are choosing to spread out their holiday purchases rather than stick with the ritual of rising before dawn the morning after Thanksgiving in order to stand in line outside a store and then shop until they drop.

During the week that includes Thanksgiving, 35% of shoppers say they intend to do most of their shopping on Black Friday this year, down from 59% in 2015, according to the analysis released Tuesday by consultancy PwC.

Retailers are rolling out deep-discount deals, the "doorbusters" that were once the biggest drawing cards of Black Friday, earlier in the season to get first dibs on consumer dollars. Sears and Kmart launched a sale on Nov. 1 that offers their loyalty members 10% to 50% off all items through Nov. 25. Walmart's seasonal discounts began rolling out last weekend. And Target's special weekend offers will kick off Saturday. 

But all that early activity has made Black Friday, the one-time busiest shopping day of the year, less of a draw. Since 2014, the Saturday before Christmas, known as "Super Saturday" has surpassed Black Friday in sales.

"We're definitely seeing a decreased significance in Black Friday,'' says Dawn Eber, PwC’s U.S. consumer markets risk assurance leader and partner. "Consumers . . . know when the sales are. They're becoming more adept at their online shopping and walking into the  stores on that particular day doesn't bear as much of a return in terms of pricing, which still is the number one driver.''

More: Black Friday: Target already has deals, and stores will be open Thanksgiving Day

Tina Macker, 50, a stay-at-home mother who lives in Brooklyn, will often stop in a store to try on an outfit but then make her final purchase online where she might snag a better price. And she doesn't bother with Black Friday. 

“I’ve never done it and will never do it,'' she says. "It’s more hype than a deal. Why would I be in such a huge crowd for $20 in savings?”

Among those surveyed by PwC, 63% of shoppers said price is what most moves them to take out their wallet. That compares to 39% who said they are spurred to make a purchase by free shipping. And 37% will fill their cart based on promotions.

As Black Friday's appeal has faded, it has given rise to a new tradition of shopping before the Thanksgiving dinner dishes have been cleared. Some 58% saying they will shop on the holiday, compared to 40% who planned to do so last year.

They'll have plenty of Thanksgiving shopping options:

Kmart. Stores will open at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving and some stores won't close until 10 p.m. the next day.

•Toys R Us. The toy emporiums will host their own holiday shopping marathon, welcoming crowds at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving and allowing them to browse and buy for 30 hours straight.

•Sears. It'll be open on the feast day. "Every year we ask (customers) basically for permission to be open,'' says Kelly Cook, chief marketing officer for Sears and Kmart. "And we keep getting the answer that says 'Yes, please be there for me.' ''

Target. The chain, too, will once again be open.

      Black Friday doesn't have the shopping power it once had, a new analysis says© Andres Kudacki, AP Black Friday doesn't have the shopping power it once had, a new analysis says

Being open on a day that used to be reserved for feasting and football is just one of the ways retailers are luring shoppers in order to grab a chunk of the up to $1.05 trillion in sales that consultancy Deloitte is forecasting for this holiday season. Merchants are also featuring events and services that make a visit to an actual store worthwhile, instead of leaving shoppers to their home computer keyboards.

Walmart hosted the first round of more than 20,000 holiday parties last Saturday, handing out catalogs and stickers to the youngest shoppers. Sears is guaranteeing loyalty members who head to a store to pick up an online purchase that they will get a $5 coupon off a future in-store purchase if they have to wait longer than five minutes.

And Target is offering cookies, hot cocoa, toy demonstrations and a photo op of a chimney made of Lego bricks to make its stores destinations. 

Such experiences are necessary to grab shoppers who can now get much of what they need from online giant Amazon and other e-commerce sites.

"I buy clothes and shoes in the stores,'' says Carlitos Ramirez, 32, a mechanic who lives in Port Washington, N.Y.  "At Amazon, I buy car parts.”

But Black Friday still has its fans.

It's a day "that's more of a social event with friends,'' says Coco Kulle, 19, a college student who lives in Manhattan.

Consumers are expected to spend roughly 6% more this holiday season as compared to last year, PwC says. And registers should keep ringing long after Thanksgiving week, with 70% of shoppers saying they won’t be done ticking off their holiday lists until after Cyber Monday. 

"I should start earlier, but I never do,'' says Jared Accettura, 26, who works in software sales and lives in Manhattan. "I usually wait until the week before (Christmas) and buy everything.''

Contributing: Kellie Ell 

     

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