Short lines, no crowds: few signs of Black Friday chaos at big box retailers

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Short lines, no crowds: few signs of Black Friday chaos at big box retailers
After waiting in a Black Friday line for two hours, Aaron Karas, right, and Max Clifford walk out of Best Buy empty handed after failing to find graphic cards on November 26, 2021 in Westminster, Colorado.Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images
  • Black Friday in-store shopping sales kicked off early Friday.
  • Videos and images shared by shoppers on Twitter show minimal crowds in some locations.

Black Friday sales have kicked off in stores across the US and, according to accounts from some customers and workers across the US, to limited fanfare.

Videos and photos shared on Twitter early Friday morning show examples of lines that are 20 to 30 people deep outside popular Black Friday shopping destinations such as Walmart, Target, and Best Buy. Four shoppers told Insider they were able to get in and out of stores quickly; in one case, in as little as 10 minutes.

"Man, online shopping and COVID really took the chaos out of #BlackFriday this year," one shopper wrote on Twitter, describing his experience at a Walmart store in Harrisonville, Missouri. "Kind of disappointing. It's not legitimately the holiday season until you see somebody get their ass kicked over discounted bath towels."

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This shopper told Insider that in previous years the store would be packed with customers. This year, there were around 100 people in line, he said, which meant he could get in and out in 40 minutes.

"Working Black Friday is boring I was expecting chaos," Walmart worker Brandt Varnell wrote on Twitter. Varnell told Insider that this is his first Black Friday shift at the store in Longview, Texas.

Black Friday, the once widely popular shopping day in the US, has increasingly lost significance over the past few years as year-round discounts have taken the pressure off this day. Moreover, as more shoppers buy online, in-person Black Friday sales have lost significance.

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In 2017, Josh Elman, a consumer and retail analyst with Nasdaq Advisory Services, told Insider that "the whole idea and concept of Black Friday deals in-store will diminish over time."

"Ultimately, consumers really want convenience and they want to get their item and get out of the store quickly. They don't want to wait in long lines, they don't want to wait for a store to open anymore," he said.

The pandemic and ongoing supply chain crisis has made Black Friday even less important. Warnings of product shortages have meant that many consumers are shopping earlier in the holiday season to avoid disappointment.

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And with retailers warning of fewer discounts this year because of delays and shortages, some shoppers may be thinking that a Black Friday shopping trip simply isn't worth their while.

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