Amid inflation and supply chain issues, San Diego-area Black Friday shoppers stepped out before dawn to shop for the holiday season.

“I thought the line would be a lot longer,” said Miguel Gonzalez, 31, of Linda Vista, who showed up at 4 a.m. at the Best Buy store in Mission Valley with his friend Victor Gomez. “Other years, he would go around (the block). I just said to (Victor) ‘Oh, we’re late. We’re supposed to arrive at 2 or 3 in the morning.

But there was no mad rush when the doors opened at 5 a.m. Instead, 104 customers who had lined up – some wearing pajamas under their coats – entered the electronics store drowsy.

No more than five minutes later, Juan Perez of San Diego came out. He bought exactly what he planned to get: an oversized MSI computer monitor. “I watched this monitor and another Samsung monitor for about a day and a half and hoped they still had it,” he said.

This kind of strategic shopping doesn’t surprise sales and marketing experts Miro Copic, who teaches at the State of San Diego University.

“Almost 100 percent of consumers do research online before shopping,” Copic said. “Online shoppers are a bit of a mercenary. They are looking for something. They find it, they buy it, it’s over.

After the pandemic cast a shadow over the shopping experience last year, it seems consumers are more optimistic.

About 135 million Americans expected to arrive in malls, malls or online retailers over Thanksgiving weekend, according to the National Retail Federation. In this holiday shopping season, sales are expected to increase 10.5% from 2020.

“There is tremendous momentum as the holiday shopping season approaches,” said Matthew Shay, CEO of the Retail Federation. “Consumers are in a very favorable position at the start of the last few months of the year as incomes rise and household balance sheets have never been so strong.”

Miguel Ramos and his partner, Marlena, are leaving Best Buy in Mission Valley after purchasing Black Friday deals on electronics. They left with a new 70-inch television.

(Nancee E. Lewis / For the San Diego Union-Tribune)

But there are a few warning signs.

Inflation is at its peak highest rate for over 30 years, eating away at disposable income for many. And global supply chain disruptions have led to shortages of items ranging from computer chips that go into cars to toys that are shipped overseas to the United States via freight containers. A continuing shortage of trucks that move freight containers to their assigned destinations adds to the problem.

In California, the the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have been stacked for months.

As the holiday shopping season begins in earnest, concerns about inventory shortages have grown.

“In the back of your mind, you are thinking if what you are looking for will be here next month,” Jihad Khatib said, as he stood in line at Best Buy. The 37-year-old father of twins planned to head to UTC shopping center in La Jolla to buy clothes as soon as he was finished.

McKinsey & Company, a renowned consulting firm, surveyed 2,095 buyers about their spending intentions over the holiday season and found that consumers buy earlier due to potential product shortages and shipping delays.

Buyers are likely to switch retailers and brands if what they’re looking for isn’t available, according to the survey, so businesses will need to redouble their efforts to retain and retain customers.

Last year, fears of contracting COVID-19 led some consumers to avoid going to malls and shopping malls. This experience seems to have an impact on consumption habits this year and beyond.

“What’s fascinating is that in 2019, online shopping accounted for a total of about 15% of all holiday shopping spending,” Copic said.

But last year, amid the pandemic, that figure jumped to 40%. Where will he land this year?

“It is likely that it will still be a function change in 2021,” Copic said. “It can be 25 percent, it can be 30 percent. But it’s going to be significantly over 15 percent. And this is going to be a permanent change in the retail environment.

But some buyers still like to shop in person.

Chloe Tims, Marine Lance Corporal at Camp Pendleton, and two friends walked through the doors of Kohl’s store at Balboa Mesa Mall when it opened at 5 a.m. the intention of obtaining items to make life in the barracks more comfortable.

“I just got back from Japan the day before Thanksgiving, so I had to go to all the stores,” Tims said. “I bought a Vortex air fryer for $ 70. It was really great.

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