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COVID-19

COVID-19 holiday creep is already here

Erika Beras Oct 12, 2020
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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
Heard on:
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
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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

What’s the outlook for vaccine supply?

Chief executives of America’s COVID-19 vaccine makers promised in congressional testimony to deliver the doses promised to the U.S. government by summer. The projections of confidence come after months of supply chain challenges and companies falling short of year-end projections for 2020. What changed? In part, drugmakers that normally compete are now actually helping one another. This has helped solve several supply chain issues, but not all of them.

How has the pandemic changed scientific research?

Over the past year, while some scientists turned their attention to COVID-19 and creating vaccines to fight it, most others had to pause their research — and re-imagine how to do it. Social distancing, limited lab capacity — “It’s less fun, I have to say. Like, for me the big part of the science is discussing the science with other people, getting excited about projects,” said Isabella Rauch, an immunologist at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. Funding is also a big question for many.

What happened to all of the hazard pay essential workers were getting at the beginning of the pandemic?

Almost a year ago, when the pandemic began, essential workers were hailed as heroes. Back then, many companies gave hazard pay, an extra $2 or so per hour, for coming in to work. That quietly went away for most of them last summer. Without federal action, it’s mostly been up to local governments to create programs and mandates. They’ve helped compensate front-line workers, but they haven’t been perfect. “The solutions are small. They’re piecemeal,” said Molly Kinder at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “You’re seeing these innovative pop-ups because we have failed overall to do something systematically.”

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