The busiest shopping day of the year, better known as Black Friday, is still six weeks away, but it'll be here before you know it. We've come to expect traffic, trampling, and triage the day after Thanksgiving, as Americans make predawn pilgrimages to brick-and-mortar retailers to grab doorbuster deals.
But consumers may be growing weary of the moonlight madness. A recent online survey by Accenture, a consulting and outsourcing company, suggests that shoppers are losing interest in Black Friday.
This year's Black Friday turnout at shopping malls and big-box retailers could be the lowest in three years, according to Accenture's survey of a "representative sample" of 500 U.S. consumers in September 2011.
Forty-four percent of consumers say they're likely to shop on Black Friday, down from 47 percent in 2010, and 52 percent in 2009, the annual consumer holiday shopping study shows.
It's unclear what's causing Black Friday's steady drop in popularity, but the rise of online shopping probably has something to do with it.
The number of shoppers who plan to buy more than half of their holiday gifts online rose dramatically to 59 percent this year, up from 41 percent in 2010, the survey found. However, there was no significant change in the number of consumers shopping online (66 percent vs. 69 percent in 2010).
Nearly three-quarters of respondents say free shipping is the best reason to shop online, while close to half say they buy online to avoid the crowds.
It also appears a persistently bad economy is impacting consumers' shopping plans. Seventy-two percent of respondents say their holiday spending will be either "careful" or "controlled" this holiday season. Bah humbug.