For the First Time Ever, More Consumers Will Shop Online Versus in Stores on Black Friday

For the first time ever, more consumers plan to shop online than in stores on Black Friday.

That’s according to Deloitte, which released today its 2020 Pre-Thanksgiving Pulse Survey. The report — taking into account responses from 1,200 people — found that 61% of shoppers intend to go digital to score deals on the holiday, compared with 54% who will venture out to brick-and-mortar locations.

“As COVID-19 brings added health and financial concerns, both consumers and retailers are reimagining Thanksgiving shopping traditions,” said Rod Sides, vice chairman and United States retail, wholesale and distribution leader at Deloitte LLP. “This Thanksgiving period, shoppers are interested in two things — getting a good deal on items and feeling safe — and this is driving significant changes in how they approach the season.”

With the number of coronavirus infections rising across the country, consumer anxiety over health and safety — particularly in public spaces — is increasing. For people shopping on Black Friday, COVID-19 precautions are said to be almost of equal importance to getting a good deal, at 30% and 35%, respectively.

A number of retailers have implemented their own measures to help ensure the safety of employees and consumers, including providing face masks, setting up sanitizing stations, installing plexiglass barriers, encouraging social distancing and cleaning high-touch areas more frequently. In some states, including California, stepped-up restrictions call for retailers to limit capacity in store to 25%.

Deloitte noted that mass merchants and online retailers — at a respective 61% and 54% — dominate as the top destinations for shoppers as consumers prioritize deals and safety. However, although shoppers expect to spend an average of $401 during the holiday period from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday, they plan to spend only 38% of their budget at physical outposts versus 62% through web purchases. What’s more, of the consumers who plan to shop during that timeframe, 95% indicated that they would go online.

Overall, Deloitte reported that the year-over-year share of in-store spend is likely to decline to 37% from the prior year’s 43%, while the share of e-commerce spend is predicted to climb to 62% from 53%. As the channel experiences a surge, 52% of respondents explained that a variety of delivery options for orders — like curbside pickup, drive up or buy online, pick-up in store — is either “very important” or “extremely important,” up from 44% last year. (Still, nearly two-thirds, or 65%, of online shoppers prefer standard delivery via post or courier service.)

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