Business & Real Estate

Some made their lists, checked them twice and waited too long to order online

Retail watchers say last minute shoppers could crowd malls on Christmas Eve since they missed holiday shipping deadlines for online purchases. Still, online sales are expected to outpace holiday sales for brick and mortar locations again this year. Shoppers crowd the aisles at Arden Fair shopping mall in Sacramento on Friday, November 29, 2013, otherwise known as “Black Friday.”
Retail watchers say last minute shoppers could crowd malls on Christmas Eve since they missed holiday shipping deadlines for online purchases. Still, online sales are expected to outpace holiday sales for brick and mortar locations again this year. Shoppers crowd the aisles at Arden Fair shopping mall in Sacramento on Friday, November 29, 2013, otherwise known as “Black Friday.” RBenton@sacbee.com

Brian Jenkins walked into Arden Fair on Thursday morning with a mission – to pick up a few items he didn’t want to buy online. His list included baseball caps, T-shirts and team jerseys from Champs Sports.

Jenkins, 47, once shopped exclusively in brick-and-mortar stores. But two years ago, he began making purchases from websites such as Amazon.com and eBay. He likes the convenience of browsing for items without having to line up at a cash register or navigating a parking lot.

Online sales saw double-digit growth on the season’s top shopping days, including Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday

This holiday season, 75 percent of Jenkins’ gifts were purchased online. He also more than doubled his budget to $1,500 compared to last year.

“My economy is getting better,” said Jenkins, a Sacramento resident who works as a sales manager.

Friday and Saturday are projected to be big shopping days for stores, as the window for shipping closes, giving traditional shops a leg-up against their e-commerce rivals. Kohls and Toys R Us are staying open 24 hours through Christmas Eve to accommodate last-minute shoppers.

Overall, however, online merchants are getting the bulk of the extra dollars Americans are projected to spend this Christmas thanks to low gas prices, wage growth and a healthy economy.

Online sales saw double-digit growth on the season’s top shopping days, including Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, according to Adobe Digital Insights. On Black Friday, for example, retailers rang up $3.34 billion in transactions across the country, a 21.6 percent rise from last year, Adobe reported.

If you’re buying something from Tiffany & Co., you want to go in and get that royal treatment. If you want to dig through bargain bins, you’ll go to Marshalls, T.J. Maxx and Nordstrom Rack. It’s the middle of retail that has basically taken this sucker punch to the gut.

Garrick Brown, vice president for retail research of the Americas at Cushman & Wakefield

“E-commerce is growing by leaps and bounds,” said Garrick Brown, vice president for retail research of the Americas at Cushman & Wakefield. “There’s no closing that Pandora’s box.”

Several retailers rolled back their extended hours on certain shopping days because it didn’t make business sense. Macy’s, which in previous years had stayed opened around the clock starting the evening of Thanksgiving, closed its doors in the wee hours of Black Friday instead.

Jamie Donley, Arden Fair’s senior marketing manager, said the mall is feeling a slight pinch from the strength of e-commerce. But she noted that some stores have capitalized on the trend by shipping online orders from their inventory or serving as a pick-up center for internet sales.

Super Saturday, a traditional barometer for retailers as the last Saturday before Christmas, was a “mixed bag,” Donley said.

“Some reported lower sales compared to last year, while others met their goals,” she said. “It balanced out.”

Donley suggested that some customers may be holding out for steeper discounts, which typically come in the final week as retailers slash prices to clear the shelves. On Thursday, apparel outlets like True Religion Jeans and others had large signs advertising 50 or even 75 percent off.

According to Brown, malls and midpriced chains have suffered the most from the rise of e-commerce. He explained that the luxury and value sectors are generally immune because of their respective clientele.

“After the New Year, Brown predicts the industry’s heavyweights will announce a slew of store closings. “In this environment, flat growth and just surviving is a kind of success in itself,” he said.

If you’re buying something from Tiffany & Co., you want to go in and get that royal treatment. If you want to dig through bargain bins, you’ll go to Marshalls, T.J. Maxx and Nordstrom Rack. It’s the middle of retail that has basically taken this sucker punch to the gut.

Garrick Brown, vice president for retail research of the Americas at Cushman & Wakefield

Richard Chang: 916-321-1018, @RichardYChang

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