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Black Friday and Holiday Shopping During a Pandemic

Black Friday and Holiday Shopping During a Pandemic

Nov 18th 2020

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and the "biggest shopping day of the year" has been diminishing in its importance for some time. Sales and discounts begin as early as Halloween, and last through mid December. And for years, online shopping has slowly eroded the importance and desire among shoppers to wait in line and get to the store for their deals. 

With a global pandemic going on, what relevance does Black Friday have at all this year? How is the pandemic impacting shoppers in general? And what does this all mean for ecommerce brands?

Consumers are shopping online: 83% of shoppers will be doing at least 50% of their shopping online. What this means for you: Be Ready! Get your online shop prepared for visitors, and since more people will shop online this year who hadn't previously been online shoppers, make it really easy for them to find what they need and check out confidently.

Shopping will be late, and consolidated: A CommerceHub survey found that a majority of consumers are waiting for the week of Thanksgiving and the week after Thanksgiving to begin doing their holiday shopping. And they are looking for major deals! Deals launched as early as Halloween this year did not bring in the revenue anticipated by major retailers. Nearly 50% of respondents to the CommerceHub survey found that they did not purchase on Prime Day because the deals weren't good enough. What this means for you: Even if your sales have been slow to date, look for a pickup next Monday. 

Basket size will be smaller, and shoppers will be price sensitive: Everyone is stressed right now, and watching their wallets tightly. There is a lot of uncertainty about the economic future and what people's Christmas plans will actually be! This means people will have a smaller list of people to shop for, and will likely buy fewer and less expensive goods for the people on their list. What this means for you: Emphasize great deals all over your site. Make it easy for shoppers to find great but lower priced gifts that in previous years, may have been positioned more as a stocking stuffer.    

Supply chains will be strained, and shoppers are expecting stock issues: This consolidation of shopping across 1-2 weeks will strain our already stressed supply chains. Ecommerce brands will struggle with the fallout of these trends. Fulfilling orders in a timely fashion when inbound orders spike like this is tough even in a normal year. Couple that with anticipated COVID-related attendance issues will make it even harder. Additionally, inventory management has been a challenge for businesses all year. With this consolidation of spend, retailers did not get the early trends they typically rely on to help plan their stock. This means a lot of things will go out of stock, with no time to replenish before the holiday. What this means for you: Over staff, recognizing that people will call out at high rates and that you may find volumes over the next three weeks to be significantly higher than what you've been staffing for over the past three weeks (even moreso than in a normal year).

People are considering their values when shopping...to a point: According to CommerceHub 72% of respondents prefer to shop with retailers that close for Thanksgiving and Black Friday and that take care of their employees. 39% of shoppers will spend with companies that support the Black Lives Matter movement and 40% will shop with BIPOC-owned businesses. What does this mean for you: Make sure your website tells your story - of who you are, your values, and what you support.