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Holiday Sales by the Numbers: 4 Big Ways COVID-19 Will Impact Black Friday and Cyber Monday

It’s a holiday season like no other, and retailers are facing unique challenges amid the pandemic-induced new normal.

From rightsizing inventories and rethinking strategic partnerships to riding the wave of accelerated digital adoption, many companies have made adjustments to their businesses in order to survive the persistent COVID-19 health crisis.

Now, with three of the biggest shopping days upon us — Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday — FN is rounding up some of the most telling statistics to provide more insight into this year’s unprecedented fourth quarter.

Consumers have already had an early start to the holiday shopping season.

A number of boldface apparel and footwear players have rushed to offer discounts and markdowns to accommodate shifts in consumer habits as well as to sidestep shipping and logistical challenges that are heightened this year by the pandemic. From Nordstrom to Walmart, nationwide chains have already begun their shopping extravaganzas for the season — also influenced by e-commerce behemoth Amazon’s Prime Day, which was postponed from its usual date in July to mid-October.

Surveying 1,000 United States-based respondents, Intelligence Node reported that 71% plan to do their shopping before Dec. 15. Another study from digital consultancy January Digital suggested that consumers have been in the Black Friday shopping spirit for about a week now, with more than 60% of “leading retailers” having already put out their offers for the holiday weekend and many of them “not planning for new deals.”

For the first time, more consumers will shop online versus in stores on Black Friday.

According to Deloitte’s 2020 Pre-Thanksgiving Pulse survey, 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. The professional services firm, which took into account responses from 1,200 people, found that consumers expect to spend an average of $401 during the holiday period from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday. While they plan to spend only 38% of their budget at physical outposts, about 62% of their holiday funds will go toward web purchases.

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%.

Consumers would rather shop for shoes at malls versus other types of physical retail locations.

A study from the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America — in partnership with Emerson College Polling — showed that people who live in the Northeast and the South were more likely to shop in stores for footwear than those residing in Midwestern and Western states: 35% of people in the Northeast and 36% in the South plan to make their purchases at a brick-and-mortar outpost or order with curbside pickup, versus 24% in the Midwest and 19% in the West.

Overall, however, the trade group discovered that 21% of shoppers don’t feel comfortable shopping in stores at all as the number of COVID-19 cases continue to rise in certain parts of the country. If shoppers were to visit a physical location to look at, try on or buy shoes, the FDRA reported that 36% would choose to go to malls, while 17% of respondents said they would stop at a strip mall, 14% would opt for a department store and 13% would choose a big-box retailer like Target.

Bigger-ticket items are likely to stimulate holiday sales.

In its annual Holiday Purchase Intentions report, The NPD Group suggested that consumers will look to splurge on bigger-ticket items as many of them miss out on in-person celebrations this holiday season. It revealed that three in 10 shoppers intend to spend more than last year because they have fewer expenses related to dining at restaurants or traveling out of state. What’s more, 40% of consumers indicated that they planned to buy more gifts — in addition to spending on general merchandise items and products that support their new homebound living — amid the pandemic.

“Splurges on both ‘guilt-gifting’ and self-gifting will be significant components of the consumer’s retail therapy during holiday 2020,” explained chief industry advisor of retail Marshal Cohen. “While the emphasis will continue to be on items that are useful to the consumer’s new way of life, the holidays are likely to prompt upgrades to up the ante on many of those practical purchases.”

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