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Get ready for a less-frenzied Black Friday this year, as more holiday shoppers started early

KFMB San Diego logo KFMB San Diego 11/25/2021 Richard Allyn

While many of us will be planning our "holiday shopping strategy" as we finish up our Thanksgiving dinners, don't expect this year's Black Friday to look like years past.

Consumer experts say that we won't be seeing as many major discounts as we have previously, and that finding that "perfect" gift may be more of a challenge this year.  

Shoppers got a head start this holiday shopping season and according to the National Retail Federation, 46% started their holiday shopping earlier this year than they normally do.

"Retailers have stopped making Black Friday the 'end all' event and it's really the kickoff of the holiday shopping season," said Miro Copic, a marketing professor at San Diego State University and co-founder of Bottom Line Marketing.

He says Black Friday will still be a major shopping event.

"This year, there is going to be more in-person shopping," Copic told News 8.

More than 158 million Americans plan to shop this Thanksgiving weekend, according to the National Retail Federation, up from 156 million last year, when some COVID shopping restrictions were in place, but still below the 165 million in "pre-pandemic" 2019.

"About half the US population is going to be in the stores this weekend," Copic noted.

As far as those Black Friday "door buster" events go, Copic says they will be available throughout the day, so fewer people will be lining up right after their Thanksgiving dinner to get first crack at the deals.

"Retailers are going to be offering special items that are only going to be available in stores and not on-line," he added.

Copic anticipates overall holiday spending to be 8 to 10 percent over last year, which also set records: and while on-line sales are edging up, surpassing 20%, the majority of holiday spending will still be in stores.

Much of that spending is well underway.

"Because of the supply chain issues, retailer have strongly been urging customers to shop early, because the choices they have may not be available all holiday season," he said.

As these supply challenges persist, Copic advises that if you see what you want, either in-store or on-line, buy it now.

"There won't be bigger discounts later and the likelihood the inventory won't be available later is very high,": he said, "so snatch it up, go home and make somebody happy!"

 If you're on the hunt for holiday shopping deals, check out these sites: 

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