PALMDALE – Although some retail experts say Cyber Monday now marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season for many younger people, Black Friday still saw plenty of old fashioned long lines outside brick and mortar businesses on Friday, with a report of at least one brawl breaking out at a store in Palmdale.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said two groups of customers at the Palmdale Walmart — each numbering over a dozen — were reported by staff to have brawled both inside the store and then in the parking lot at around 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 22.
One of the people in the fight was said to have had a gun, but no arrests were made, according to Lt. Anthony Gunn.
The intense Black Friday shopping action at brick and mortar stores comes even though online sales continue to climb.
Perhaps due to the roaring U.S. economy, online shopping nationally has jumped 15.2 percent in the first nine months of the year, compared with last year, said Raymond Sfeir, director of Chapman University’s A. Gary Anderson Center for Economic Research.
“That is a huge increase,” Sfeir said.
It indicates that the annual Cyber Monday online retail event will mark the beginning of the holiday shopping season for many younger discount hawks, Sfeir said.
“I expect ecommerce to grab an even larger portion of retail this year,” Sfeir said. “It’s sad to see so many stores closing in different malls and shopping centers, including a lot of clothing stores, but for young people that’s where they shop these days. They like to take out the cellphone and click a few times and get something in the mail.”
It’s more convenient in some ways, but without trying clothes on in a store it leads to a lot of returns, Sfeir said.
“They’ll order five things and keep one and ship back the rest,” Sfeir said. “For the new generation that’s what they’re used to. They’re not used to touching things and kicking the tires so to speak in the stores.”
Monday sales are “increasing at a faster rate than the sales on Friday and the (Thanksgiving) weekend in general,” Sfeir said.
He predicts a strong shopping season at brick-and-mortar stores, though, based on positive economic indicators.
“We have very good employment data, and that is very important — the unemployment rate is extremely low,” Sfeir said.
The stock market has been retreating, but Sfeir does not think that will affect shopping this weekend.
“I think it will be fine,” he said. “Profits are still strong, the economy is doing well and GDP is expected to grow next year. A little less than this year, though.”