Daniel Brandl thinks fondly of going to the mall with his family during the holidays.
"I actually like to go holiday shopping," said Brandl, 42, of Robbinsdale. "I like the hustle and bustle of it."
For millions of people like Brandl, this is the week they've been waiting for since in-person holiday shopping was curtailed a year ago by the coronavirus pandemic. Across Minnesota and around the country, stores are stocked and decorated for the busy day after Thanksgiving, long known as Black Friday and the rest of the holiday week.
Brandl, 42, and his husband plan to shop this week at big box stores for a television for themselves and gifts for others. They will visit downtown Minneapolis later to experience the Christmas window displays at the recently renovated Dayton's and the revived Holidazzle festivities.
Nearly 2 million more people than last year are expected to shop from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday this year, the National Retail Federation found in a survey. The typical U.S. household will spend about what it did last year — just under $1,000 — on holiday gifts and items. But that's below the 2019 record of about $1,050, the trade group said.
More than half of the 265 respondents to a Star Tribune social media poll said they will spend about the same on holiday gifts as they did last year. Only 15% said they will spend more.
With supply chain disruptions and product shortages in the news since summer, many people started holiday shopping earlier than usual.
"October provided strong indicators for continued shopper demand," said Ted Gonsior, retail specialist in the Minneapolis office of JLL, a real estate services company.
A survey by JLL found many consumers may increase spending to make up for lost time, a phenomenon the firm calls "revenge shopping."
The presents are all wrapped and under the Christmas tree at Amanda Schneider's Maplewood home. Schneider finished her shopping early this year and spent $500 more than last year, often paying full retail prices.
She learned her lesson when she shopped for Halloween and saw a lot of merchandise out of stock in October. "I knew, to get the gifts I wanted, I'd better get them early," Schneider said.
Same goes for Marty Cormack of Rochester, who completed his shopping. "Because of the supply chain issues, I wanted to be in front of it it all," Cormack said.
About half of the Twin Cities shoppers in a survey by Accenture, a business consulting firm, said they'll shop in stores more than online this season. The shift back to the store is one of the largest changes compared to last year, said Lori Zumwinkle, Accenture's leader for retail for North America.
"They want to go and have the experience," said Zumwinkle, who is based in the Twin Cities. "They want to see the sparkle."
Dave Paulson is looking forward to resuming his holiday traditions after his three vaccine shots. The Eagan man will gather for Christmas with a group of friends who've gotten together every year for the past two decades except 2020. In advance, he'll shop online and plans to make his annual day trip in early December to the Mall of America to finish up.
"When I do go shopping, I try to go on a weekday and make it fun, have lunch, have a martini and not make it a stressed-out ordeal," Paulson said.
Slumberland Furniture planned this year's Black Friday promotion last year at this time, which is much earlier than normal, said Joe Daurio, vice president of merchandising for the Oakdale-based firm.
The furniture company, like other small and large retailers concerned about stocking up, ordered larger quantities of recliners and other popular items. Since the pandemic began, Daurio said, "This is the first time that people can actually show off their home and entertain."
Amy Courtney of Savage said she is worried about finding Legos in stock for her 12-year-old. However, she said her sons aren't that bothered about gifts this year because they're more excited about seeing cousins and grandparents after missing out last year.
While at Ridgedale Center one recent afternoon, Courtney described the family's anticipation of spending the holidays with her parents and extended family in North Dakota.
In 2020, she went overboard online shopping. "Last year, I overcompensated because we were stuck at home," she said.