The Journal Gazette
Friday, November 20, 2020 7:00 am

Black Friday to look different as many hope to avoid crowds

SHERRY SLATER | The Journal Gazette

Black Friday shopping is going to look different this year.

C'mon, did you really expect anything else? Remember, we're talking about 2020.

Survey results show consumers plan to shop earlier and buy more items online than in previous years.

Respondents to the National Retail Federation survey, which was conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, said they plan to spend almost as much on presents as they did in 2019. Their gift-giving budgets of $650 are only about $8 less, on average, than last year.

The survey, conducted Oct. 1-9, asked 7,660 consumers about winter holiday shopping plans. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.1 percentage points.

The two biggest factors luring consumers to shop early are the desire to take advantage of early sales -- 53% of those surveyed -- and the desire to avoid crowds -- 37%.

As we've all learned, COVID-19 can spread more easily in crowds. That might be why 60% of those surveyed said they plan to buy at least some items online. Of those, 44% plan to shop online but pick up their purchases at a local store. 

The types of brick-and-mortar locations consumers plan to shop in include department stores, 45%; discount stores, 43%; and grocery stores, 42%.

Shoppers traditionally budget some money to take advantage of sales to buy things for themselves -- maybe an instant pot or new outfit. But Phil Rist, Prosper's executive vice president of strategy, said results show shoppers aren't thinking along those lines this year.

"Consumers are focusing on making the holidays special for others but are playing it by ear when it comes to those 'extra' items they might get for themselves," he said in a statement.

I understand that impulse. My family won't be getting together this Thanksgiving in an effort to keep everyone healthy.

Missing out on that time together is making me feel sentimental -- and more likely to splurge on gifts for my loved ones.

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