By STEVEN HERBERT
LOS ANGELES — Thousands are expected to head to malls and stores in Southern California for Black Friday on November 25 as the California Highway Patrol ramps up nationwide efforts to combat organized retail theft.
The California Highway Patrol Organized Retail Crime Task Force is increasing its presence in malls across the state, working with local law enforcement to make arrests and increase visibility.
Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 331 by Rep. Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer Sr., D-Los Angeles, on July 21 to expand and expand the task force. Its regional teams work with local law enforcement and retailers to proactively combat organized retail theft.
Since the task force’s inception, the CHP has been involved in 1,296 investigations, the arrests of 645 suspects and the recovery of 271,697 stolen retail items worth nearly $26 million, Newsom said.
“Californiaans deserve to feel safe — especially as they head out to stores this holiday season,” Newsom said. “We have redoubled our crime-fighting efforts with millions of dollars to deter, arrest and successfully prosecute criminals involved in organized retail theft.
“This year, malls across California will see countless patrols as regional CHP teams work with local law enforcement to assist with arrests and the recovery of stolen merchandise.”
According to an annual survey released Nov. 17 by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics, an estimated 166.3 million people plan to shop from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday, up nearly 8 million people from last year and the highest estimate since the association began collecting the data in 2017.
“While there is much speculation about the impact of inflation on consumer behavior, our data tells us that this Thanksgiving holiday weekend will see robust store traffic with a record number of shoppers taking advantage of bargain prices,” said Matthew Shay, President and CEO by the National Retail Federation, the world’s largest retail association.
“We’re optimistic that retail sales will remain strong in the coming weeks, and retailers are poised to meet consumers however they choose to shop with great products at prices they want to pay.”
According to the survey, 69% of Christmas shoppers plan to shop over Thanksgiving weekend. The main reasons why consumers want to shop are because the offers are too good to pass up (59%), because of tradition (27%) or because there is something to do (22%) over the holidays.
Black Friday remains the most popular day to shop: 69% (114.9 million) plan to shop on that day, followed by 38% (63.9 million) on Cyber Monday. Of the 114.9 million Black Friday shoppers, 67% said they expect to hit the stores, up from 64% in 2021.
Similar to 2020 and 2021, 60% of holiday shoppers said they started browsing and buying for the season in early November. This consumer trend of shopping earlier has been accelerated by the pandemic. In 2019, 56% of holiday shoppers had started shopping around this time.
“While consumers continue to save the bulk of their holiday shopping for later in November and December, some of that spending has shifted into October,” said Phil Rist, executive vice president of strategy for Prosper, a consumer intent data company.
“This year, 18% of holiday shoppers have done at least half of their holiday shopping. While this is on par with last year, it’s down from just 11% a decade ago.”
The survey found that clothing remains at the top of the list of things people want to buy during Christmas shopping at 55%, followed by gift cards (45%), toys (37%), books/music/movies/video games ( 33%). and groceries/confectionery (31%).
Legos were again the top toy buyers scheduled for boys, followed by Hot Wheels, up one place from last year, and Cars & Trucks, which fell one place. PlayStation and video games again took fourth and fifth place respectively. Pokémon finished sixth, up four places from 2021.
Nerf products ranked seventh with a drop, electric and remote control cars eighth, dinosaur-themed gifts ninth, and Xbox gaming systems tenth, down one place.
The top four on the girls list were the same as they were a year ago – Barbie dolls, any doll, LOL Surprise! Dolls and Lego. Makeup and Squishmallows plushies took fifth and sixth place respectively after not making the top 10 last year. American Girl Dolls and Apparel took seventh place.
Disney-related items came in ninth and baby dolls in tenth place.
The survey of 7,719 adult consumers was conducted November 1-8 and has an error margin of plus or minus 1.1 percentage points.
Last Chance for Animals will host its 36th Annual Black Friday Fur Free Friday protest in Beverly Hills to raise awareness and educate retailers and shoppers about the horrors of the fur trade. The protest will also include a celebration of California’s ban on the sale of fur products, which goes into effect on January 1.
Black Friday is also the 31st annual “Buy Nothing Day,” billed as “a 24-hour moratorium on consumer spending” to “free your mind from the compulsion to buy, the addiction that is more than ever devastating to our natural… and spiritual life has environments,” according to Adbusters, who conceptualized the day.
Suggested Buy Nothing Day activities include setting up a table with scissors at a mall to offer passers-by a chance to slash their credit cards, and organizing a group to “sell empty shopping carts for a long, inexplicable amount of time.” pushing around the conga line without ever buying anything.”
Adbusters describes itself as “a global network of activists, writers, artists, designers, hackers, con artists, poets, philosophers and punks”.