New York. The pandemic of coronavirus made the usual crowds of the Black friday in malls and stores throughout United StatesBut a surge in online shopping offered a glimmer of hope for battered retail chains after months of business downturns and bankruptcies.
Previously, Black Friday was the busiest business day of the year, drawing millions of customers eager to start Christmas shopping, but these are not normal times: the economy is stagnating, coronavirus cases are on the rise, and shoppers are turning every once again to the Internet.
Many physical stores closed their doors in the Thanksgiving Day, But they strengthened their security protocols to guarantee the most cautious customers that they will be able to attend on Saturday. For those who are not convinced, many businesses moved their most attractive offers to the Internet and strengthened their delivery services looking ahead to year-end sales amid a bleak winter and with the pandemic still raging.
“Black Friday is still critical”, said Neil saunders, Managing Director of GlobalData Retail. “No retailer wants it to go out of business. Getting consumers to spend and get them in the holiday mood is still vital. “
The Macy’s store in Herald Square in New York had discounts of 50% on handbags and 60% on women’s and men’s coats, but There were hardly any customers at 7:00 am, an hour after it opened. There was no queue in the area where people pick up their purchases on the Internet. Several employees were disinfecting doors and windows. The scene was similar in the neighboring Manhattan Mall.
At the nearby Garden State Plaza shopping center in Paramus, NJ, parking was easy to find shortly after opening. Inside, there was a queue at the GameStop video game store and several policemen controlled the crowd.
Things were quiet at a Walmart store in Saddle Brook, NJ. The nation’s largest retail chain has been offering its best online sales this month to avoid the crowds on Black Friday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had warned that shopping in crowded stores and supermarkets during the holiday season would be a “high risk” activity and advised that face-to-face purchases should be limited.
Instead, the health agency recommended shopping online, visiting open-air markets, or using shopping pickup services, where store workers bring orders to the parking lot.
In recent years, the day after Thanksgiving has been losing its luster as the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season, with more and more stores offering promotions throughout the month. However, the so-called Black Friday has remained the most shopping day of the year, according to ShopperTrak, and is expected to revalidate the title this year as well.
There are reasons for hope. Retailers managed to convince shoppers to spend earlier, promoting deep discounts since mid-October. Additionally, customers have shown their willingness to spend in other festive periods, such as Easter and Halloween.
The National Retailers Federation (NRF), America’s leading retail trade group, has taken an optimistic view and expects shoppers to look for reasons to celebrate. The association expects sales in November and December to rise between 3.6 and 5.2% compared to 2019, compared to the 4% increase registered last year. Christmas sales have increased an average of 3.5% in the last five years.
“After everything that has happened, we believe that there is going to be a psychological factor that we owe it to ourselves and our families to have a better Christmas than normal”, he claimed Jack kleinhenz, Chief Economist at NRF. “There are risks to the economy if the virus continues to spread, but as long as consumers remain confident and optimistic, they will spend on the Christmas campaign.”
Internet sales could generate even higher profits for the holidays. Black Friday is expected to generate 10 billion online sales, 39% more than a year ago, according to Adobe Analytics, which tracks sales at 80 of the top 100 US online retailers.
Additionally, Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving, will continue to be the busiest online shopping day of the year with sales of $ 12.7 billion, an increase of 35%.
The pandemic has already benefited Amazon, which continues to strengthen its dominance on the internet as shoppers choose to click on their electronic devices rather than venture to stores. Similarly, large chain stores like Walmart and Target, which were able to remain open during the spring lockdowns, fared better than other department stores and nonessential businesses that were forced to close. This disparity helped accelerate bankruptcy filings for more than 40 chains, including JC Penney and J.Crew, and caused hundreds of stores to close.