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Big deals welcomed Minnesota shoppers early, but the Black Friday frenzy is over

Minnesotans hit stores and malls on a Black Friday that was less complicated but more expensive.

The health concerns and supply chain issues related to the pandemic and recovery over the past two years have been settled. And the hype and frenzy associated with Black Friday for much of the 2010s was offset by retail promotions that began weeks ago.

Even so, the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas accounts for about 20% of annual retail sales.

At the Southdale Center in Edina, the state’s oldest mall, Macy’s was open before dawn and many other stores were closed.

Richfield’s Shari Kawiecki said most of her Christmas shopping has already been done. She hasn’t been able to find anything in recent years, so this year she started shopping early, but she did accompany family members on their traditional post-Thanksgiving day shopping spree.

“I’m kind of glad it’s not Thanksgiving anymore,” Kawiecki said.

A decade ago, more retail chains opened on Thanksgiving Thursday, a move that drew some criticism but executives argued was necessary to reduce some of the rush that took place when stores opened on Black Friday.

But the power of Thursday openings waned in 2018 and 2019, then was wiped out during the 2020 pandemic. During this time, consumption shifted more to online orders, and the doorbuster model of luring shoppers with deep discounts on Black Friday gave way to promotions that weren’t as steep but took longer.

A year ago, fear was a factor in Christmas shopping as retailers caught up to renewed demand after the pandemic was brought under control. Some goods didn’t arrive on time and stores didn’t have to give much discount because it was difficult to introduce items.

This year, the holiday shopping season will be mainly influenced by inflation, which has risen to the highest rates in 40 years. Higher prices will force consumers to spend more and increase retailers’ revenues.

But they’re also putting pressure on consumers to find value, which can lead to people buying fewer things and spending amounts comparable to those of recent years.

The National Retail Federation — the largest retail group — expects holiday sales growth in stores and online to slow to 6% to 8% from 13.5% growth last year. However, these figures are not adjusted for inflation. Real spending could even be lower than a year ago.

The parking lot in front of the giant Scheels store at the Eden Prairie Center filled up ahead of the store’s scheduled 7 a.m. opening. The managers saw the buyers and opened the store beforehand.

Chanhassen’s Julie Nessly and her daughter-in-law turned up at opening time to look for ideas for their outdoor husbands and get the good deals before they’re gone. They are price conscious in the face of inflation when they start Christmas shopping.

“I definitely want a good deal,” Nessly said. “If it’s not a good deal, I won’t buy it.”

Ashley Reis, 16, from Shakopee, stopped by Scheels’ to hang out with her friend.

“I just want to shop and make some good deals,” she said.

Kurt Schoenbauer from New Prague stopped by Scheels early Friday with his wife for convenience. “The rest of the day is busy, so we have limited time to get things done,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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