NEW YORK (NewsNation Now) — Traditionally, people across the country push their chairs back from that big Thanksgiving meal and get ready to hit the malls. But there’s nothing traditional about 2020.
Some economic analysts say Black Friday shopping, in decline for the past few years, could be facing its last straw in COVID-19.
The latest numbers show more than 60% of Americans are concerned about in-person shopping this year. About half say they plan to skip it altogether.
That’s driving retailers—especially small businesses—to become more creative. Many say it’s their only choice.
Along with taking precautions like more regular cleaning, mask-wearing and social distancing, some have done their best to draw out the demand, turning a single day of Black Friday deals into a month-long event.
Unfortunately, for many cash-strapped consumers, no incentive can be enough. It’s part of the one-two punch delivered by the coronavirus pandemic— there’s the obvious fear of catching and spreading the virus, but there’s also the economic damage that’s already been done to many would-be holiday shoppers.
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“I don’t have any money this year, so I’m not actually doing any shopping,” said Ambrosia Glisson of New York. She’s far from alone. Even worse, as hard as customers may be to come by for brick-and-mortar retailers, deals may be scarce as well, because businesses have had to downsize during the pandemic.
Simeon Siegel, Senior Retail Analyst at BMO Capital Markets said, “I think this is the first holiday in a long time where demand is going to outstrip supply, and what that means is don’t expect that many discounts.”
Smaller retailers like Tampa boutique Creme de la Creme are doing their best with what they’ve got, updating websites and using social media, while reminding consumers they can shop safely.
“There aren’t crowds of people coming in here,” said owner Sharon Yerrid. “You can stay six feet apart.”
Burlington, Vermont small business owner Sarah Phaneuf is counting on the personal touch to keep customers returning.
“People want to go out,” she tells NewsNation affiliate WFFF. “They want to shop. They still want the experience.”
Retail experts say there’s reason to be optimistic, pointing to a sweet spot that may be more important this year than ever before, falling right between Black Friday and Cyber Monday: Small Business Saturday.