When many shoppers take stock of their Black Friday weekend purchases, they’re unwrapping gifts for a special someone — themselves.

Clint Gaines of Minneapolis spent $300 getting into the holiday spirit Thanksgiving evening. The 22-year-old snapped up a pair of Levi’s, a North Face jacket and a few other items at Macy’s in Southdale, but everything was for himself. “I’m shopping because everything I like is on sale,” he said. “This is my first time ever being out shopping on Black Friday weekend.”

The shopping weekend is traditionally known for buying gifts for loved ones. But when Dealnews.com polled its readers recently and asked for whom they were shopping on Black Friday, 38 percent said “myself,” followed by children (24 percent), relatives (16 percent), spouse or significant other (13 percent) and friends/others (8 percent).

Self-gifting has evolved into a popular trend in recent years, but it’s expected to spike this year, according to Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at the NPD Group. “Retailers have started to cater to the self shopper in their ads this year,” he said. “Who wants a $10 toaster as a gift or who can afford to give someone a $1,500 65-inch Smart TV?”

The National Retail Federation expects holiday shoppers will spend about $127 on themselves. The majority of the self-gifters are men shopping mostly for themselves on Black Friday weekend, according to Dealnews. Women, on the other hand, shop predominantly for their children during the holiday weekend, Wednesday through Cyber Monday.

Men from 18 to 34 years old are most likely to put their own name at the top of their shopping list. Many of them are shopping for technology — TVs, handheld devices, gaming accessories and computers.

Steve Tischler, 29, of Minneapolis was browsing in Best Buy in Richfield on Thanksgiving with a Wii controller in hand. “I’m shopping for me but also for my mom,” he said. “I’m planning to spend about $100.”

The extension of Black Friday shopping into Thanksgiving evening contributes to selfie shopping. “It’s hard to get a 19-year-old out of bed at 4 a.m. for a deal, but on Thanksgiving evening, sure,” said Pam Goodfellow, principal analyst at Prosper Insight and Analytics in Ohio. “They’re buying for fewer people anyway, so they have more to spend on themselves.”

What’s changing this year is the clusters of young people shopping in groups for themselves, Cohen said. “They used to shop as singles or in pairs, but they’re growing. It’s a sport for millennials and younger.”

Male-dominated retailers such as consumer electronics, hardware and outdoor stores are clear beneficiaries of self shopping.

Terry Gorman, of St. Paul, was on the hunt for an infrared heat gun and other tools at Menards on University Avenue on Friday morning as he shopped with his brother and two adult nephews. “We are fixing guys and do repairs. It’s fun to have new tools. So no, this is probably not going to be for [my wife],” said Gorman about the heat gun.

Best Buy definitely skews toward young men, said retail analyst Brian Yarbrough at Edward Jones. “Millennials are the reason the Best Buy website went down Friday. They’re all searching for products on their phones,” he said.

Best Buy public relations director Paula Baldwin described self-shopping as a “dirty little secret” in consumer electronics retail. “Our research shows that a significant number told us they intend to buy for themselves this year,” Baldwin said. Their top personal purchases include smartphones, tablets, HDTVs, tech accessories and small appliances like a Dyson cordless stick vacuum and Keurig coffee brewers.

Still, not all of the target demographic was shopping for themselves this weekend. Chris Strand, of Bloomington, 27, said he usually spends most of the time shopping for himself on Black Friday, but this season was different. “I have extra money this year, so I’m buying a TV for my wife,” he said while standing in line waiting for the Kohl’s at Southdown in Bloomington to open.

 

Star Tribune staff writer Dee DePass contributed to this report.