As you rush around getting the last few ingredients for your Thanksgiving feast, how much of that “planning” area of ​​your brain is also focused on what happens after the meal?

We’re talking the crazy scramble to spend your money on a supposed cornucopia of Black Friday bargains.

It seems a long time since shoppers in Montana and across the US dove into the binge eating known as “Black Friday,” even when the madness began to carry over to Thursdays. Entire families wolfed down their food before the football games were over and headed to the big department stores to wait in line. For hours. Often buys nothing more than a cheap flat screen TV. Back when that was still a thing.

In 2019, the crowds started as early as 3 or 4 p.m., forcing store associates to break off their dinners even earlier to prepare for the onslaught.

And then the pandemic struck.

While lockdowns had eased somewhat by Christmas 2020, a shortage of staff and anti-pandemic precautions cut deep into what retailers had convinced us was a holiday tradition. I remember driving into KPAX that night to break the late news and how quiet was every Missoula parking lot again. It was peaceful. And wonderful.

Last year, the Thanksgiving frenzy returned, but in a much more muted fashion, as more retailers listened to their workers and realized they could still sell a bunch of junk if they returned for the early Friday opening instead.

Interestingly, after a slump in 2020, the pace of sales isn’t that far off from where it used to be, largely due to the growth in online sales and the trend towards Black Friday bargains before the birds are cooked.

Business software provider FinancesOnline notes that the number of buyers fell from 189.6 million in 2019 to 186.4 million in 2020. But that’s also when the number of online shoppers surpassed 100 million for the first time. Adobe reports that total holiday sales reached $188 billion in 2020, up from $205 billion last year and expected to reach $210 billion this holiday season.

FitSmallBusiness reports that in 2020, 66 million shoppers walked into stores on Black Friday alone, a 61% increase, and spent an average of $301, with clothing and accessories being the leading category.

Those are strong numbers

But does that mean less room for maneuver in Montana’s shops in 2022? Not necessarily. FitSmallBusiness reports that the pickup options or curbside delivery were tremendous last year. Retailers offering this service saw a 50% jump in revenue. The site predicts another big leap in online shopping, with 69% of shoppers making this choice and 73% of women choosing to go this route. Even more critically, 86% of younger shoppers, including millennials, say they will shop online.

That means you might not see the long lines. But your bandwidth to stay home and stream Netflix could be terrible.

You could always go to the store and check out these cheap “flat screen TVs”. How quaint.

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