What to Expect From Black Friday in 2020
For anyone worried about having to camp outside their favourite store to secure the best Black Friday deals, I have some good news – Black Friday is moving online this year! That’s right, 2020 has thrown yet another curveball that has retailers and consumers alike scrambling to change their holiday shopping plans to accommodate in-store shopping limitations caused by COVID-19. So, what can shoppers expect from this year’s Black Friday? Two primary factors affect how the shopping experience will differ this year and how consumer shopping habits have changed since the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
How Shopping Will be Different on Black Friday
To ensure that everyone can have a safe and healthy holiday season, many big-box retailers encourage their customers to stay home and shop online during the American Thanksgiving weekend instead of physically browsing the stores in person. As such, retailers had to adapt their digital strategy to bring the allure and discounts revered by Black Friday shoppers from an in-store experience to an online marketplace.
From Instore to Online Shopping
The shift toward online marketplaces provided businesses with an opportunity to create more fanfare by changing Black Friday from an isolated, one–day event to a sales extravaganza that runs through November and into December. Unfortunately, many sales won’t be as steep, but there will be more opportunities to promote different products from week to week instead of simply advertising store-wide, one-day sales. This also encourages shoppers to frequently check-in and engage with businesses online to see the newest deals and periodically check more products off their shopping list.
The Importance of Curbside Pick-up
Curbside pick-up is expected to be more popular than ever this year as customers try to close the gap between waiting weeks for their product to arrive in the mail and the initial rush of making a Black Friday purchase. This also helps businesses manage the surge of Black Friday customers by scheduling pick-up times that are optimally spread out, ensuring employees are not overburdened and the business’s resources are used as efficiently as possible. Additionally, curbside pickup helps individual stores move inventory that would otherwise be sent from central processing facilities if the product were to be shipped through the mail. From the customer’s perspective, curbside pick-up saves them the shipping cost and provides a faster alternative to traditional online shopping. From the business’s perspective, curbside pick-up increases the average amount spent per transaction as customers buy more to maximize their return to visit the store in person.
How Consumer Trends Have Changed
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, consumer trends have continued to change and evolve as the future becomes more uncertain. In March of 2020, when the world first entered a lockdown, millions of people began working from home with no timetable for returning to the workplace. The resulting effect on consumer shopping habits saw homeware and self-improvement products like furniture, home office supplies, and exercise equipment skyrocket in popularity. In contrast, luxury items and non-essential recreational products experienced a steep decline. As time went on and the initial panic was replaced by boredom, consumer shopping habits slowly began to return to their pre-pandemic position. This trend was signalled by the increasing popularity of clothes, electronics, toys, and other personal items akin to what was most prominently being purchased before March of 2020.
More Disposable Income
A more recent development regarding consumer shopping habits relates to the growth of disposable income of those working from home with limited expenses. Although there is a significant percentage of the population in both Canada and the US who have lost their jobs and fallen on hard times, there are many more who have had the good fortune to retain their job and save money each month that otherwise would be spent on commuting, professional clothes, eating out, and other job-related costs. The more disposable income someone has, the more likely they are to spend it on non-essential personal items or luxurious gifts for others. This plays a crucial factor in the lead-up to Black Friday and the upcoming holiday season as, on average, consumers in the US plan on spending 23% more than they did last year.
Effect on Purchasing Decision Process
Not only have consumer spending habits changed, but the process for how consumers are coming to a purchase decision has changed as well. One of the biggest advantages of in-store shopping is the access it provides customers to physically evaluate the product in person and quickly decide whether or not it is worth buying. Online customers, however, do not have access to a physical product, so they must qualify their potential purchases by leaning on reviews from others who have purchased the same product and had time to evaluate its performance. However, when there is too much information available online, the sheer volume of data can overwhelm most consumers and hinder the time it takes to finalize a purchase decision or make them abandon their purchase altogether. That’s why it is so essential for businesses to control the flow of information about their products. This ensures that shoppers are being influenced by reputable sources who communicate messaging about the product, increasing buyer confidence and inspiring them to finalize a purchase decision today.