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What's Ahead For Black Friday In Ohio: Fewer Malls, Smaller Budgets

This Black Friday, holiday shoppers in Ohio could be taking more of their business online than in retail stores. Or they might do both at the same time.

“One thing we’re starting to notice is that people will bring their phones to the store and do some online searching right within the store,” says Colin Gabler, an Ohio University marketing professor.

Mall closings in Columbus and around the state this year have forced many buyers to change their habits.

Gabler says shoppers who would normally take a day trip to the mall won’t find it as convenient to travel to buy gifts.

“Because those malls aren’t there, there’s going to be less of the need to make that one big holiday trip, which again will go back to that idea that online shopping is really eating into that market,” Gabler says.

Black Friday is normally when retailers slash prices for some big-ticket items like TVs, computers and smartphones. While Ohio’s unemployment rate has remained low, Gabler says small paychecks could lead some shoppers to spend less money.

“I think, you know, that means that folks maybe have jobs, but not the highest paying jobs that they feel they could have,” Gabler says. “So historically, I think this means that people will still shop and they’ll still buy stuff, but they might adjust their budgets a little bit."

Seven out of 10 shoppers say they go to a retail store without any particular item in mind. 

“There are some benefits still to going to the traditional retailers,” Gabler says. “They just have to be able to blend the good things about online shopping or digital shopping with what they have to offer, which is that touch, that feel, that experience."

Brick and mortar stores will need to step up their deals, too. Millennials, Gabler says, enjoy spending money on more experiences, like traveling and dining at an expensive restaurant, rather than on buying material goods.

“So, I think for firms that are trying to get people into the store, it’s all about trying to make that experience worthwhile," he says.

Debbie Holmes has worked at WOSU News since 2009. She has hosted All Things Considered, since May 2021. Prior to that she was the host of Morning Edition and a reporter.