Black Friday Expected to Bend for the Untraditional, Isolated Holiday Weekend

While last year’s trend of an elongated Black Friday promotional period has certainly made its way into the 2020 holiday shopping season, multiple reports have projected that this year will see consumers taking on shopping sessions solo as consumers shift away from prioritizing experience for safety.

Consumers have notably been anxious throughout the pandemic, and with the number of COVID-19 cases on the rise experts from Deloitte say consumers’ holiday shopping plans have been revamped. In its 2020 Pre-Thanksgiving pulse survey, the company found that for the first time in the history of Black Friday more consumers plan to shop online compared to in-store.

In fact, an overwhelming 95 percent of consumers who plan to shop during the Thanksgiving period will shop online at some point. Further, while the year-over-year share of in-store spend for the overall Thanksgiving period is expected to decline to 37 percent, online spending is predicted to increase to 62 percent.

“As COVID-19 brings added health and financial concerns, both consumers and retailers are reimagining Thanksgiving shopping traditions,” said Rod Sides, vice chairman and U.S. 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. Also, with nearly one-third of consumers not having firmly decided on where to shop for specific items, those retailers that prioritize safety precautions, for both the customer and employees, are likely to win this holiday season.”

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At the same time, as online shopping continues to increase, more than half of the consumers told the company it has become “extremely important” to them that retailers offer a variety of delivery options. Still, 65 percent of consumers said they continue to prefer standard delivery via post or courier service.

Deloitte’s data additionally predicts that those consumers who feel anxious shopping in-store will spend less at an estimated $386, compared to those who feel safe shopping in-store who are expected to spend abut $477. Overall, the company predicts that mass merchants and online retailers will dominate as the top destinations for shoppers as consumers prioritize safety and deals.

“Many consumers started their holiday shopping earlier than they have in the past because of Prime Day and other retailers’ promotional events,” said Jeff Simpson, leader at InSightIQ and principal at Deloitte Consulting LLP. “Traditionally, those who start shopping earlier tend to spend more over the course of the holiday season, which is good news for the retail industry overall. However, as shoppers look to minimize their in-store visits, mass and online retailers are likely to come out on top as they offer a one-stop-shop for consumers purchasing gifts along with their essential purchases, like hand sanitizer or groceries.”

Meanwhile, a new study from consumer insights platform, Quantilope revealed Baby Boomers will be the generation least interested in Black Friday this year, followed by Gen Z and Millennials, instead preferring to start shopping online with pre-Black Friday deals. Further, the survey found that younger generations have reported being “most excited” for the holiday season as they look forward to a time for relaxation and joy.

Finances and COVID-19 were cited as the top reasons from consumers who said they were not excited about the holiday season — the majority of whom were Baby Boomers and Gen X.

In tandem with other reports, Quantilope’s survey found a clear shift in preference toward online shopping this Black Friday, with almost half of survey respondents saying hesitation to shop in-store was due to the risk of COVID-19. Of those who said they would prefer to shop in-store, the ability to browse was listed as the top reason, specifically stating plans to shop at mass-market retailers including Target, Walmart, and Best Buy, among others.

A similar report conducted by CommerceHub revealed that 71 percent of consumers feel they will be able to “find better deals online” over the Thanksgiving period and a majority have even held off on any early shopping. In fact, half of the company’s survey respondents said they did not make any holiday gift purchases on Prime Day because “the deals weren’t enticing.”

At the same time, consumers told the company they are worried about desired products being out of stock this year, making product availability and product assortment a priority when deciding where to shop. Top gifting categories were revealed as electronics and video games followed closely by apparel and accessories. Another 20 percent of respondents said they will be shopping for loungewear and pajamas as well as stress-relieving products as gifts as a priority for “comfy and cozy” remains top of mind.

Financially speaking, different generations provided different outlooks on holiday plans this year with clear distinctions on how consumers will be spending on gifts. When asked if uncertainty about the economy will impact holiday budgets 75 percent of Baby Boomers agreed, followed by 70 percent of Gen X, with only 55 percent of Gen Z and 60 percent of Millennials.

Similar to other reports, CommerceHub’s survey revealed significant shifts to online shopping, though notably 72 percent of respondents also said they will be more inclined to shop at retailers who are closing on Thanksgiving and Black Friday to give employees time to spend with family. And as social distancing remains top of mind, 68 percent of consumers agreed it is not safe for parents to bring children to visit Santa Claus this year.

For More WWD Business News: 

‘Tis the Season for Predictions

Prime Day and Promotions Lead Holiday’s First Wave

Americans Admit to Holiday Shopping Under the Influence

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