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LR Black Friday Crowds "Underwhelming"

Shoppers say online sales likely to blame

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- As early as 5 o'clock on Thanksgiving night, shoppers began descending on Central Arkansas stores for Black Friday deals.

But some bargain hunters at Best Buy in West Little Rock say they were underwhelmed by the size of the crowds.

"It was different from what I expected," said first time Black Friday shopper Nate Hunter. "I thought it was going to be chaos, right out the gate."

Hundreds calmly lined up outside the electronics retailer patiently awaiting discounted prices, a stark contrast to the stereotypical melees of Black Fridays past.

"It was a little surprising to see the lack of people, actually," said Jacob Belding, who got to Best Buy at 10 PM Wednesday to be the first in line. He says the feat was made easier as more Black Friday shoppers opt to go online.

While online Black Friday deals may be more convenient for shoppers, cities are losing out on millions in sales tax revenue, an issue already causing municipalities problems year round.

Earlier this month, the Little Rock Board of Directors revealed online shopping has cost the city approximately $3.9 million in sales tax revenue in 2017.

Back at Best Buy, Jacob Belding says he decided to Black Friday shop in person to give him greater confidence he'll walk away with what he wants. While internet shopping has made an impact, he doesn't believe it will totally replace the brick and mortar phenomenon because some things you just can't find online.

"People come for the deals, obviously," he explained. "But they also come for the experience."

And sometimes it's the experience that's priceless.



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