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Black Friday will be ‘a lot quieter’ this year

Updated November 25, 2020 - 11:02 am

Henderson resident Mikaela Cohen doesn’t love the typical Black Friday crowds.

And with the pandemic still raging, “I will not be shopping during busy Black Friday.” Instead she’s been doing her in-store shopping in advance and shopping online.

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated a general shift to online shopping, a trend that will continue on Black Friday with record online sales anticipated.

“It’s certainly going to be a lot quieter than it’s been in previous years,” said Steve Horwitz, an economics professor at Ball State University’s Miller College of Business. “No store or retailer wants Black Friday to be the source of the black plague. … And certainly buyers, consumers are being cautious about where they’re going out in public.”

Brick-and-mortar and online stores are preparing accordingly.

Shift to online

A study from customer service software provider Qudini found 63 percent of consumers are avoiding stores, though a separate PwC study found shoppers are willing to go in stores as long as health and safety measures are enforced.

But that doesn’t mean people, like Jaden King, aren’t shopping.

King, also a Henderson resident, says he “always” shops online, especially during the holiday season.

“With, like, the traditional way, you get to see some fights and long lines — which I want to avoid,” he said.

More consumers are expected to overwhelmingly shop on Black Friday on their phones and computers in 2020 compared to previous years, according to U.S. shoppers surveyed by Deloitte, citing anxiety over in-person shopping.

Related: Online shopping boom means potential delivery strain

Adobe Analytics projects Black Friday to generate $10.3 billion in online sales, a 39 percent increase year over year.

And Black Friday sales began well before Friday, helping boost online shopping 3.1 percent in October, the same month Best Buy, Target and Walmart offered holiday deals in to piggyback on Amazon, which held its annual Prime Day sales event after it was postponed this summer due to the pandemic.

Related: Retailers halt Thanksgiving Day in-store shopping amid pandemic

Online shopping has soared by nearly a third in the past year.

Preparing

E-commerce giants like Amazon have set consumers’ expectations on free shipping and fast delivery, pushing other retailers to step up their game in the online and logistics space.

Retailers have turbocharged plans to build out the fulfillment and logistics processes to capture the surge of online sales, hiring more back-of-house seasonal jobs than in previous years.

Stores have also accelerated the adoption of no-touch payment systems, more self-checkouts, and contactless in-store or curbside pick-up for online orders.

Fashion Show spokeswoman Esther Sarpong said the mall will use a new line-queuing system Spot Holder so shoppers “can still enjoy all the excitement of Black Friday shopping while adhering to social distancing protocols.”

The mall will also have its DropIt services for shoppers that want free curbside pickup and same day home delivery at select retailers.

Target is also implementing its new line reservation system so shoppers don’t have to wait outside in line.

“Some of the innovations that we’ve really seen take off in the last few months like curbside delivery, I think are going to continue on are going to be heavily used the next couple months,” said Horwitz. “I don’t think we’ll ever come back to Black Friday as we knew it five or seven years ago.”

Contact Jonathan Ng at jng@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ByJonathanNg on Twitter.

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