At the tail end of a tough year for retailers, Black Friday deals appeared to draw fewer shoppers into big box stores around Austin.
Early morning openings at Bed Bath & Beyond on Brodie Lane, Best Buy and Walmart on Hwy. 290, Target on West Ben White Boulevard, and Marshalls on West William Cannon Drive saw anemic turnout—perhaps driven down by the rising number of COVID-19 cases reported locally or the cold, rainy weather.
Black Friday line-spotting in Austin, TX youtu.be
Shoppers may also have turned to online retailers, where similar deals could be found with less risk.
Black Friday, as a shopping concept, began gaining steam in the late 1980s, when retailers operating at a loss—or in the red—reported a sharp uptick in sales—moving into the black—after Thanksgiving.
It may also have derived its name from police officers in Philadelphia, who used the term to refer to the chaos that resulted when suburban shoppers came into the city for their holiday shopping in the early 1960s, according to Encyclopaedia Britannica.
The allure of Black Friday has been waning in recent years, however, and it may be further diminished by the pandemic.
A recent survey from Accenture found that 64% of more than 1,500 respondents are less inclined to shop on Black Friday than they were a few years ago. U.S. consumers also began their holiday shopping earlier this year and plan to spend less, according to the survey.
Still, many local businesses are open, from The Austin Winery and Half Price Books to Kendra Scott and Waterloo Records.
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Austin Public Health issues post-Thanksgiving COVID guidelines: avoid crowds (and get tested if you don't)
Austin Public Health issued post-Thanksgiving guidelines on Friday, recommending that residents avoid higher-risk activities such as attending crowded, indoor gatherings; going on hayrides with people outside of one's household; traditional caroling and other door-to-door activities; and traveling for events.
"COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are rising locally, across Texas and the United States," APH Director Stephanie Hayden said in a statement. "It is critically important that everyone do their part to combat COVID-19 by avoiding gatherings and travel this holiday season."
As of this morning, it appeared the traditional Black Friday crowds would not materialize at local big box stores.
Bed Bath & Beyond opened at 6 a.m. and there are no lines in sight at the Brodie Lane location! https://t.co/MUF2v8iAAb— Austonia (@Austonia)1606478815.0
APH also issued recommendations for people who did gather over Thanksgiving or otherwise engaged in higher-risk activities. The department recommends getting testing three to five days after gathering and staying home for a week as a precaution, even if the test results are negative. Those who test positive should isolate themselves, and those who don't get tested should quarantine for 14 days.
As of Wednesday, the latest day for which data is available, Travis County reported an average of 273 new COVID cases each day, up from 222 a week ago. The average number of new COVID-related hospitalizations each day is now 37, up from 32 a week ago, according to APH.
Austin-area hospital systems—Ascension Seton, Baylor Scott & white Health and St. David's HealthCare—report 74% overall occupancy and 82% ICU occupancy.
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Small businesses have struggled through a long and arduous year, working to keep their livelihood afloat in a sea of uncertainty. This holiday season poses the opportunity to not only give gifts to your favorite people but also give back to your favorite local artists, Austin icons and small businesses.
The Austin Winery
The Austin Winery, located on 440 E. St. Elmo Road, already gives bulk discounts, because let's face it, 2020 has been a rough year. Whether you gift this local wine to someone else or stockpile for the next pandemic, take 20% off a pickup order and get free Austin delivery through the rest of the year.
Away Spa at W. Austin
Give the gift of the oh-so-important self care this year, plus enjoy a little bit of it for yourself as well. With a $250 gift card purchase, receive an extra $25 spa voucher. Located on 200 Lavaca St., Austin residents also receive 20% off of certain services—how can you afford not to go?
Half Price Books
Texas-business Half Price Books is not skimping on the sales this year, and some of the deals even carry over into the new year. Take 20% off of your online book haul and for every $25 gift card you give away, any HPB will give you $5 off in January.
Kendra may not be a "small" business anymore but it started small with Austin roots. From Nov. 29 through Dec. 2, take 25% off of everything (yes, everything!) in the store and an extra 30% off of $300 or more for the "Yellow Friday" sale.
Lilla & Beth
For some unique Austin-centric decor, gifts, clothes and accessories, Lilla & Beth, located on 1911 Aldrich Street, has you covered this year. The more you buy, the more you save so take 10% off purchases under $50, 15% off purchases over $50 and 20% off purchases over $100. Everyone will wish they had gotten you as their secret Santa!
Record Store Crawl
Self-described "magic school bus that takes you to record stores and bars," the 2020 Record Store Crawl will make holiday shopping more fun than ever before. The Record Store Crawl will drive you to 10 record stores in the area, complete with a band on the bus for entertainment. Last year, the event helped sell 2 million records at local retailers nationwide, so this is a great way to have fun and help out the music industry.
Give the gift of relaxation with the help of Roam Homegrown's collection of candles, soaps, scents and self care goodies. To celebrate the holidays, the Austin-based, women-owned company is giving 10% sitewide until Dec. 31. This offer has no minimum so you can gift as much or as little as your heart desires.
Make sure to check business hours before heading out, it is COVID-19 after all.
Black Friday holiday sales start earlier every year with many retail stores opening on Thanksgiving night to give shoppers a head start.
Well, finally, we can point to a positive change resulting from the pandemic. Austin-based coupon consolidator RetailMeNot compiled a list of two dozen national retailers that do not plan to open on Thanksgiving day, mostly in response to a lack of demand. RetailMeNot survey results suggest 88% of shoppers do not plan to do in-store shopping for Black Friday deals.
Not surprisingly, it was Walmart that started the trend of opening before Black Friday. But it was also the mega big-box retailer that first made the call to close its 4,000 U.S. stores—including seven in Austin—on Thanksgiving this year.
Here are the other national businesses keeping doors closed on Turkey Day 2020 (Nov. 26 this year):
- Academy Sports + Outdoors
- Bath & Body Works
- Bed Bath & Beyond
- Best Buy
- Dick's Sporting Goods
- Foot Locker
- The Home Depot
- Lamps Plus
- Office Depot/OfficeMax
- Simon Property Group
- The Outlet Resource Group
However, many stores are still opening for Black Friday in-person sales—but not as many as usual. RetailMeNot compiled a list of national shops that have confirmed plans for the biggest shopping day of the year. Many business chains are letting local stores make the call based on COVID-19 spread in their respective area.
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