Black Friday draws US shoppers but many shun stores for online


People buy clothes in a store at a shopping center during Black Friday sales, in Caracas, Venezuela November 26, 2021 - Reuters

CHICAGO: Bargain hunters ventured out in chilly weather to buy Christmas gifts on Black Friday only to discover that many U.S. retailers offered smaller price markdowns this year amid tight supplies.

COVID fears and fewer "doorbuster" sales thinned crowds the day after the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, which kicks off the year-end holiday shopping season.

The shopping season kicked off on the same day that the World Health Organization named the newly identified omicron variant of the coronavirus as a "variant of concern" Friday, triggering worldwide alarm and a selloff in the U.S. stock market.

Stores on Black Friday had the lowest level of clearance goods for sale in five years or more, Cowen analysts said in a note. Many shoppers chose to pick up merchandise curbside rather than venturing inside stores.

Walmart and Target stood to outperform other retailers in part because of their buy-online-pick-up-at-store services, Cowen said. Target added more than 18,000 "drive-up" parking spaces, more than doubling spots versus last year.

Several retailers - including Walmart, Target and Best Buy - are expected to post lower fourth-quarter profit margins because of tight inventory and higher costs for raw materials, freight...

- Reuters
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