Economist Ernie Goss

While tomorrow is what’s become known as Black Friday for the frenzied kick-off of the holiday shopping season, one financial expert says it’s not the buying bonanza it once was.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says many Iowa malls will still be a madhouse, but the allure of bargain-hunting has faded for many shoppers.

“Black Friday is becoming less and less of the ‘big day’ and what retailers have done, of course, is they’ve extended it,” Goss says.

“Right after Halloween, you begin to see advertisements for Christmas buying, holiday buying, and we’re seeing that inch back more and more each year.”

A Creighton survey projects holiday shopping may only be up two or three-percent from last year, while online buying may rise as much as 20-percent. Goss says many people already have their gift purchases complete.

“We’re going to still see Black Friday being a very big day for spending by retailers but in comparison to previous years, each year it’s becoming less and less of a big deal,” Goss says. “By the same token, (the holiday buying season) is being stretched out by retailers and, of course, that tends to add to their bottom line.”

Several major retailers, including Target, Sears, Toys-R-Us and Walmart, are opening tonight for special gift-buying events. It used to be considered forbidden to interfere with the “family” day of Thanksgiving, Goss says, but no more, as the spectacular sales are starting in just a few hours.

“Many of us would like to see it less commercialized but it’s to some degree, the retailers are taking advantage of it, making it more of a party atmosphere, lining up long lines so you can rush in and get the few items that are really marked down,”

Goss says. That applies especially to big TVs and other electronics, as well as a list of hot-selling toys.