Black Friday and Cyber Monday mark the unofficial start to the holiday season. Whether you find the holidays joyful or stressful, the COVID-19 pandemic impacted how many of us shop.
Dr. Lexi Hutto, associate professor of marketing at MU, gives her expertise on the changes she expects to see during Black Friday and Cyber Monday this year.
Q: In what ways has the pandemic affected both Black Friday and Cyber Monday?
Overall, there may be less money devoted to holiday spending. A lot of items will cost more due to inflation. How one shops depends on one’s budget and personal preferences. While practicality will be the order of the day, some revelers continue to crave fun, frivolity and fashion for the holidays. There’s still room under the tree for frou-frou treats like sparkly tops, sumptuous fragrances and flamboyant earrings to surprise gift-getters. After a long season of deprivation, why not punctuate it with a touch of glam?
Q: What should people expect this year for Black Friday as it is the first one back without mask mandates or Covid protocols?
Black Friday has lost a lot of its luster over the years, especially since online shopping has taken hold. Now you can get a lot of the same deals without the crowds and the hassles of jockeying for a position for a parking spot at the mall or standing in line for hours at Best Buy. Shoppers are perusing the ads online in advance of the sales and letting their fingers do the walking on sale day, moving from one sale to another at will.
Q: Do you expect to see a change in the number of people going Black Friday Shopping?
For the reasons above, I’d expect to see a continuing decline in the number of shoppers out on Black Friday. Additionally, more shoppers have started spreading out their holiday shopping, with upwards of one-third or more finishing it by the end of October. Retailers started running promotions earlier to capture shoppers’ dollars earlier in the cycle as well as to clear out some of the inventory they accumulated toward the end of the pandemic.
Q: What should consumers expect from Cyber Monday as many retailers are running early deals this year?
Expect to see more practical gifts such as blankets and scarves to help one stay warm and save energy. Also, look for deals on surplus items. For example, last year, air fryers were all the rage. Retailers ordered too many of them, so this year expect to find them deeply discounted in stores and online during Cyber Monday.
Q: Overall, do you expect to see a change in consumer buying habits this year?
Yes, given the historically high inflation that we’ve experienced over the past year, a lot of consumers will be tightening their belts this year. That could come in the form of trimming spending by spending less per gift, but in many cases, it could come by way of trimming the list. Therefore, one’s kids and grandkids could receive the same level of gift as last year, but people farther down the list may receive handmade gifts or nothing at all. Some people will mutually agree not to trade gifts this year to save money.