A beloved shopping tradition fights for survival amid a changing technological retail landscape

Black Friday shopping continues to ring in the holiday season, but a technology-driven change was evident in South Florida retail meccas. 

The once chaotic crowds of shoppers squeezing into storefronts for the best deals has evolved with many shoppers choosing online alternatives to the early morning ritual.

The term that once exclusively referred to the day after Thanksgiving, has now extended throughout the weekend leading up to Cyber Monday. Some sales start in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving.

Parking garage lines at Aventura Mall on Friday, Nov. 24, 2023. (Cailyn Guevara/Caplin News)

The shopping holiday in the United States still brings in large crowds. And for some, the in-person shopping experience can’t be replaced by a computer or smartphone screen. 

“Going shopping on Black Friday with my sister is a fun outing for the two of us,” said older sister Isabel Marichal while shopping at Dadeland Mall. “It reminds me of when my sister and I were little kids and our mom used to take us shopping after Thanksgiving dinner.”

Clothes shopping is often easier in person because customers can touch the fabric and test the fit before purchasing. That’s a major reason shoppers said they came out in person on Friday.

Shoppers search for the perfect deal at Zara in Dadeland Mall on Black Friday. (Cailyn Guevara/Caplin News)

And for people of a certain age, technology brings challenges. 

“I do all my Christmas shopping on Black Friday because it’s frustrating to place orders online with all the information required,” said Lola Blanco, a shopper at Aventura Mall. 

In contrast, younger consumers tend to gravitate to online platforms. 

Mobile devices were responsible for 54% of online purchases, raising the number of sales by 10.4% in 2023 as compared to last year, according to Adobe Analytics. 

“Large crowds tend to overwhelm me so I usually do all of my shopping online,” said Talia Garcia, avid online shopper. “I also don’t feel like there’s much of a difference between online and in person sales.” 

Another noticeable change in traditional Black Friday: Deals start earlier and last longer than just the day after Thanksgiving. Instead of opening stores at midnight, for a 24-hour period, sales now extend into the week. 

The longer shopping window – and online options – tamp down the historic frenzy of in-store Black Friday shopping.

U.S. shoppers spent a record breaking $12.4 billion on Cyber Monday, according to Adobe Inc. 

And it’s not just the convenience of online buying that shifts shopping habits. 

The ability to compare prices is another key driver. 

“I just bought a new computer on Best Buy’s website during the Black Friday sale and before making my purchase, I checked multiple websites to compare prices and make sure I was getting the best deal,” said Faith Escarda, an online shopper.

Cailyn Guevara is a senior digital journalism student at Florida International University. She obtained an associate degree in Mass Communications/Journalism from Miami Dade College. Her love for words and curiosity of the world continues to inspire her within the journalism field. In addition to her love for writing, she enjoys reading as you will always find her with a book in hand. Cailyn looks forward to using her journalism background to share and explore new perspectives, as well as work on producing content for social media accounts across platforms.