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San Diego Shoppers Notice Smaller Crowds On Black Friday

People shop at Fashion Valley mall in San Diego on Black Friday, Nov. 24, 2017.

Photo by Nicholas McVicker

Above: People shop at Fashion Valley mall in San Diego on Black Friday, Nov. 24, 2017.

Black Friday was in full swing across San Diego County marking the start of the holiday shopping season. A strong economy and a 3.7 percent unemployment rate have economists expecting retail sales to increase almost 4 percent over last year.

Fashion Valley mall was bustling by midmorning on Friday as a frenzy of shoppers were on the hunt for big bargains.

“I got two pairs of jeans, I got shoes, I got clothes,” said Renee Moore from San Carlos, who arrived at the mall before sunrise.

“Perfume and some cosmetics, and that’s what I was aiming for,” said Stephany Gutierrez, who crossed the border early Friday from Mexico with friends and family.

“We got a real cool shirt for my son here. This little Santa shirt that’s pretty neat,” said Steve Weisenberg, pointing to his purchase.

But some shoppers noticed smaller crowds compared to years past, including 11-year-old Nicole Guevara, who said her annual 6 a.m. trip to the mall on Black Friday always begins with hot chocolate from Nordstrom.

“Usually you’re bumping into people, but today it’s more calm,” Guevara said. “You can sort of run around.”

That’s likely because record numbers of people are turning to the internet to snag their discounts.

“About 60 percent of people are going to shop online. But I want to stress ‘shop’ because that doesn’t mean ‘buy,’” said Miro Copic, professor of marketing at San Diego State University.

“When all is said and done, the expectation is about 18 percent of people will buy their holiday items online specifically.”

Copic said 80 percent of gifts will be purchased inside of stores — great news for retailers.

“Most people when they buy online, they’re going to buy one thing, and then they’re done,” Copic said. “Why stores love you to come into the store is that when the economy is good like it is this year, people buy for themselves.”

The average shopper is expected to spend approximately $960 on gifts and decorations this year, with 30 percent of shoppers spending more this holiday season than last.

Black Friday was in full swing across San Diego County marking the start of the holiday shopping season. A strong economy and a 3.7 percent unemployment rate have economists expecting retail sales to increase almost 4 percent over last year.

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