COVID-19

COVID-19 holiday creep is already here

Erika Beras Oct 12, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace
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Consumers return to retail shopping at the a mall in Glendale, Arizona, in June. Holiday shopping will be mostly online this year due to the pandemic. Christian Petersen/Getty Images
COVID-19

COVID-19 holiday creep is already here

Erika Beras Oct 12, 2020
Consumers return to retail shopping at the a mall in Glendale, Arizona, in June. Holiday shopping will be mostly online this year due to the pandemic. Christian Petersen/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
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Every year, it feels like retailers are starting the holiday shopping season earlier and earlier. Well this year, because of the pandemic, it actually will be starting earlier. At least that is what retailers are hoping for.

You may give and get presents, but here’s something you probably won’t do in 2020: “You won’t be lining up at 4 o’clock in the morning with thousands of other people,” said Bill Thorne, senior vice president at the National Retail Federation.

Instead of crowding store aisles, you’ll be shopping Black Friday sales online because COVID-19 holiday creep is already here. 

Treeny Ahmed, executive director at the Yale Center for Customer Insights, said the pandemic has changed shoppers’ behavior.

“Companies are taking advantage of the fact that consumers have now gotten accustomed to the idea of product shortages,” she said. “Supply chain troubles have extended to so many industries now that consumers kind of know that if they see something they like, they should buy it now and not wait.”

With so many shoppers buying stuff online, retailers are trying to start selling now to avoid delays that could happen if everyone buys everything in the three weeks before the holidays. 

“That then becomes a nightmare in terms of fulfilling and delivering all of this product to people’s homes,” said Neil Saunders, an analyst with GlobalData.

But we have high unemployment and considerable economic uncertainty.

“I don’t think you’ll see massive splurges over the holiday season the way you have in the past,” said Nick Shields, an analyst at Third Bridge.

And if we do spend, it’ll be on stuff for our lives at home, like decorations and cookbooks, he said.  

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

How are Americans feeling about their finances?

Nearly half of all Americans would have trouble paying for an unexpected $250 bill and a third of Americans have less income than before the pandemic, according to the latest results of our Marketplace-Edison Poll. Also, 6 in 10 Americans think that race has at least some impact on an individual’s long-term financial situation, but Black respondents are much more likely to think that race has a big impact on a person’s long-term financial situation than white or Hispanic/Latinx respondents.

Find the rest of the poll results here, which cover how Americans have been faring financially about six months into the pandemic, race and equity within the workplace and some of the key issues Trump and Biden supporters are concerned about.

Are people still waiting for unemployment payments?

Yes. There is no way to know exactly how many people have been waiting for months and are still not getting unemployment, because states do not have a good system in place for tracking that kind of data, according to Andrew Stettner of The Century Foundation. But by his own calculations, only about 60% of people who have applied for benefits are currently receiving them. That means there are millions still waiting. Read more here on what they are doing about it.

What’s going to happen to retailers, especially with the holiday shopping season approaching?

A report out Tuesday from the accounting consultancy BDO USA said 29 big retailers filed for bankruptcy protection through August. And if bankruptcies continue at that pace, the number could rival the bankruptcies of 2010, after the Great Recession. For retailers, the last three months of this year will be even more critical than usual for their survival as they look for some hope around the holidays.

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