Holiday shopping trends change with pandemic

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Holiday shopping presents a unique situation with the pandemic this year. LSU Marketing Professor Dan Rice said online sales increased 32 percent in the second quarter of 2020 whereas overall sales for all retail are down for the first few quarters of the year. Rice says it is difficult to predict end of year sales.

“It really remains to be seen how we can translate those sales and if we can translate those sales into the online space for many retailers or what retailers can do if they need people to come into their stores,” said Rice.

Rice said a retail trend that has been spurred by the pandemic this year is starting Black Friday sales before Thanksgiving along with retailers hoping to get the most out of sales or better sales by being open fewer hours. For example, more stores were closed on Thanksgiving Day than before.

“Some of that has to do with belief that there won’t be as many shoppers due to the pandemic, people being more cautious, some of that has to do with increased sanitation practices due to the pandemic, but there are a lot of variables here that we really just haven’t seen before,” said Rice.

While the National Retail Federation is cautiously optimistic for fourth-quarter sales, Rice believes retailers with a good online presence and stores like bicycle shops and DIY outlets that have seen an increase in business due in part to the pandemic will continue to do well.

“It’s certainly not going to be all sectors so it really remains to be seen kind of on the overall how it turns out and with the current situation I’m not sure anyone really knows,” said Rice.

Rice said Small Business Saturday is this weekend where many local businesses offer incentives for shoppers.