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Retail officials are optimistic for holiday shopping weekend

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Kevin Bessler | The Center Square

(The Center Square) – Black Friday may not have the same allure as in years past, but there is still plenty of shoppers expected to be out this weekend.

According to a survey by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics, nearly 2 million more people than last year are expected to shop the next four days.

“Around 158 million shoppers are expected to go out to browse and to buy starting Thanksgiving Day and all the way through Cyber Monday,” said Katherine Cullen, NRF senior director for consumer insights.

Concerns about supply chain issues leaving popular items out of stock may have caused some to shop early.

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© iStock - Dan Rentea

While Thanksgiving weekend is expected to be busy, 61% of those surveyed had already begun their holiday shopping which is about the same as last year, but up from 51% a decade ago in 2011.

As consumers grow more comfortable returning to brick-and-mortar stores, a larger share of shoppers is expected to head to the mall rather than shop from their couch on a laptop. About 64% of consumers surveyed said they planned to shop in stores on Black Friday, up from 51% last year.

Rob Karr, President and CEO of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, said vaccinations are just part of the reason for the expected uptick in sales.

“I think also there is the pent-up demand after last year and being more isolated,” Karr said. “People have more money in their pockets as a result of both jobs and financial aid from the federal government and the like.”

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© iStock - west

Shoppers aren’t expected to snag as many deals this year. There will still be Black Friday sales, but retailers are unlikely to offer big discounts when the supply is limited.

Then there is inflation to deal with. Consumer prices rose 5% in October compared to the same period last year, the fastest 12-month gain since the same stretch ending in November 1990.

According to the NRF survey, 58% said the deals are too good to pass up as the top reason to shop this weekend, followed by tradition at 28%.

The survey also addressed what consumers plan to buy this weekend. Clothing continued to top the list at 53%, followed by gift cards at 46% and toys at 39%.

For those shopping for children, those surveyed said the top toys for boys are Legos, cars and trucks and Hot Wheels. Barbie is the top toy for girls, followed by dolls and LOL dolls.