Black Friday is dying a slow death

Black Friday is losing its relevancy to US shoppers.

The holiday, which takes place the day after Thanksgiving, has historically been the biggest shopping day of the year in the US.

But over the last several years, shopper traffic in stores on Black Friday has been falling with many retailers like Walmart, Target, and Amazon kicking off their holiday discounts online several weeks in advance.

Foot traffic in stores this year is expected to fall by about 3.5% on Black Friday compared to last year, according to data from the location tracking service Foursquare.

That's coming on the heels of several years of declines.

Last year, about 102 million shoppers hit stores over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, down from 147 million in 2012, according to the National Retail Federation.

That doesn't mean people aren't shopping during the holidays anymore. They just aren't saving their purchases for Black Friday, or for Cyber Monday, for that matter. Many are choosing to shop online, rather than in stores.

Stores closed on Thanksgiving
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About 137.4 million people are expected to shop in stores and online over the Thanksgiving weekend, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation. That's up from 135.8 million who shopped over the long weekend last year.

Overall spending during the holiday period is expected to increase 3.6% over last year to $655.8 billion.

Online sales are forecast to grow between 7% and 10% over last year to as much as $117 billion.

But nearly half of American shoppers are expected to get most of their holiday shopping done before Black Friday this year, according to a survey by Market Track, a Chicago-based advertising firm.

black fridayRob Stothard/Getty Images

That data is supported by a BDO survey of retail executives, which said more than two-thirds of retailers expect Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales to remain flat this year.

"While retail CMOs expect an overall holiday sales pop (+4.7%), they continue to see Thanksgiving Weekend fizzling in importance," the survey said.

The Black Friday "effect" of extreme discounts is now spread across the months of November and December.

"The question isn't whether Black Friday is dead: It's how many Black Fridays are there during the holiday season?" BDO consumer business leader Natalie Kotlyar said.

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