This year's Black Friday isn't expected to be much different from the previous year's.
Last year, 87 million Americans went shopping on Black Friday, spending more than $1.5 billion, according to the National Retail Federation.
Audrey Guskey, Duquesne University marketing professor, said she anticipates sales the day after Thanksgiving to be relatively unchanged from last year.
“I really don’t see how sales can be that strong,” Guskey said. “Throughout 2015, back-to-school sales have been weak, Halloween sales were weak. People have not been spending, and I think they’re going to continue to be conservative.”
She said Black Friday cannot be used as a barometer to measure how people are going to be spending throughout the holiday season, however.
“We’ve had great Black Fridays and the sales throughout the whole Christmas season have been weak, or vice versa,” she said. “And so I think shoppers have been spreading out their holiday shopping for a while.”
She said businesses are aware that consumers have been more conservative with their spending in recent years, so they extend their hours and sales, meaning consumers ultimately benefit.
“Consumers are, in a sense, the winners, because there are a lot of bargains, a lot of sales, a lot of discounts,” she said. “And shoppers, like Pavlov’s dogs, have been conditioned to only shop when you find things on sale with coupons or midnight madness sales, or lots of discounts."
Guskey said because sales in 2015 to date have been weak, many retailers will be looking to make up lost ground.
“Christmas season tends to be a make or break time for retailers,” she said, “because that’s when about 50 percent or more or their sales and profits come through the months of November and December, and so retailers really are hoping for a merry season.”
According to the National Retail Federation, the average shopper spent $802 over the course of the 2014 holiday season.