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Online shopping changes the face of Black Friday tradition

The crowds at Best Buy in South Portland were smaller than usual on Black Friday in 2019 -- and a lot of people are blaming the dwindling size on online shopping.

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — To truly be a bargain shopper, it's an experience you have to have at least once: waiting outside in freezing, late November weather to get that discount on electronics, appliances -- you name it.

The Black Friday shopping tradition officially started in 2005 -- and stores began opening their doors for eager customers at midnight in 2011. This year, more than 165 million people around the country are expected to shop between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, according to the National Retail Federation.

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The post-Thanksgiving holiday is still a big one for enticing deals. In 2018, shoppers spent more than $6 billion on Black Friday sales -- but $2 billion alone were spent on that Friday online.

It's why the crowds outside of big retailers like Best Buy were decently-sized but smaller than usual Friday morning in 2019. Some shoppers, though, say they keep coming to stores in person because it's a tradition for them.

"I guess it's something -- a tradition that I kind of don't want to let go, and I wish my kids could experience it," Chris Hamel of Auburn told NEWS CENTER Maine, as he perused items at Best Buy in South Portland with his son. "I guess over time it's probably going to be a thing of the past -- and it's going to be stories that we tell our grandkids and they tell their grandkids."

Keeping local employees in business is also an important factor to shoppers like Krista Cayer of Oxford, who was looking for a laptop for her child.

"I like to see the product," Cayer expressed. "If I have questions, there are people here I can ask. I'm not a very tech(nical) person, so when it comes to laptops, I need the information."

Experts say that these days if you know what you want, buying the product online may be the best option, since it's likely easier to find, and there may be exclusive deals. But perusing the stores is still a good choice for shoppers not set on a certain item and just looking for good buys.

Coming up this weekend are also two other shopping perks. Small Business Saturday supports local businesses in the community, and Cyber Monday brings discounts online to people at home.

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