Hidden Costs of Black Friday are Adding Up: In-Store Shopping Experiences Reported to be Worse Than Ever

Record low temperatures, aggressive crowds and transport complication will hurt in-store shopping nationwide

Nov 15, 2012, 09:00 ET from Rakuten Buy.com

ALISO VIEJO, Calif., Nov. 15, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Across the country, Americans brace themselves for Black Friday sales they can't afford to miss. But, this year the shopper is up against a series of hidden costs that is reported to make in-store shopping experience a hefty price to pay. Rakuten's Buy.com has researched the busiest cities in the country –New York, L.A., Dallas and Chicago—and found that every city is experiencing a trend in unfavorable weather, violent acts and pricey travel options.

The cold descends

Shopping conditions across the country are forecasted to drop substantially and shoppers are being advised to bring umbrellas in most cases. New Yorkers and Chicagoans should expect the worst of it: suffering a severe 24-degree drop from last year's balmy 61 degrees to 37 degrees in New York and a devastating 37-degree drop to 20 degrees in the Chicago area. Dallas and L.A. shoppers don't have it much better; battling rain showers and strong wind gusts reaching nearly 29mph in L.A. and overcast skies for Dallas keeping temperatures cooler.

Moods darken as the busiest shopping day of the year just gets busier

Holiday deals attracted 14 million more shoppers in 2011 from 2010 –rising from 212 million to 226 million people visiting stores/websites during the full Thanksgiving Day weekend, according to the NRF[1]. Of these shoppers in 2011, 74 million people had been estimated to shop physical stores—a massive crowd for stores to handle on the busiest shopping day of the year. The count for 2012 is only predicted to rise, making time-consuming lines longer and competition for the goods, tougher.  Rising numbers and limited supplies has led to shocking cases of violence between fellow shoppers.  At least seven states in the U.S. experienced violence during Black Friday 2011. Pepper spray attacks, trampling, ruined stores and mass hysteria in the early morning hours across New York, L.A., Chicago and Dallas have damaged the day's efforts to provide merry savings, making shoppers wary of where to shop and when.

Public transit stalls and parking woes

Whether the commute involves a car or the local public transport, each year shoppers mistake their travel time on Black Friday shopping as time well spent. Yet the average price of gas, while down nationwide, is still higher than it was a year ago and mall congestion across the country remains at a standstill.  Of the four busiest areas, Chicago traffic is reported to be the worst –with three of the city's surrounding malls making the top 10 most congested shopping destinations. Meanwhile parking meters and city street cleaning complicates shopping for out-of-towners in areas like New York and L.A. who don't know the city laws, and suffer pricey fines on top of an expensive shopping day. For the economical public transit route, findings aren't better. Although intended to help with congestion and provide a cheaper travel route, cities across the nation experience inconsistent timetables on Black Friday and shoppers will endure long waits for overflowing buses, subways, trains and shuttles.

Adding up these hidden costs total to a devastating outcome for in-store shoppers this season: one lost vacation day spent with friends and family; significantly decreased chances of getting exactly what you were looking for due to aggressive crowds; and gas prices, expensive parking fines and spotty transit routes all point to a challenging Black Friday this November 22nd.

Bernard Luthi, CMO and COO of Rakuten's Buy.com commented:  "In a country where the average American gets 14 vacation days per year, time with loved ones is precious. The rise of m and e-commerce, complete with innovations like video product reviews and social shopping tools mean that you can still snag Black Friday bargains, but enjoy a great shopping experience on your own terms. With Black Friday evolving into a dark event for in-store shoppers, it begs the question, how will people spend their invaluable holiday time off this year?"

If you plan to dodge the crowds and stay at home, Rakuten's Buy.com is offering site-wide discounts across its 20 million products offered by its 5,500 merchants—that include your local small businesses and your favorite major brands. Find them all at www.buy.com/blackfriday.

About Rakuten's Buy.com

With more than 18 million customers, Rakuten Buy.com is a leading retail marketplace, focused on providing its customers with an entertaining shopping experience and a broad selection of retail goods at everyday low prices. Rakuten Buy.com connects buyers and sellers in a global marketplace that allows shoppers to buy from people, not the internet. By providing a large selection of products from Computers, Electronics, Fashion, Health & Beauty, Video Games, Home Furnishings & Decor, Baby & Toys, Pets, Sporting Equipment and more, Rakuten Buy.com shoppers support local merchants as well as the brands they love. Founded in 1997, Buy.com joined Rakuten in 2010 to continue its mission to provide a simple, connected and human alternative to the ecommerce experience. Buy.com is headquartered in Aliso Viejo, CA. For more information about Rakuten's Buy.com, please visit www.buy.com.

About Rakuten

Rakuten, Inc. (JASDAQ: 4755), is one of the world's leading Internet service companies, providing a variety of consumer- and business-focused services including e-commerce, e-reading, travel, banking, securities, credit card, e-money, portal and media, online marketing and professional sports. Rakuten is expanding globally and currently has operations throughout Asia, Western Europe, and the Americas. Founded in 1997, Rakuten is headquartered in Tokyo, with over 10,000 employees worldwide. For more information, visit: http://global.rakuten.com/group.

[1] The NRF 2011 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey

Dan Gamble

SOURCE Rakuten Buy.com