How Holiday Shopping Will Change in 2020

NBC 7 Responds looked at how the pandemic is already affecting how people shop for the holidays

NBC Universal, Inc.

The pandemic has forced most of our lives online. That could also be the same for our holiday shopping this year.

"Last year 51 percent of shoppers did most of those purchases online," said Ted Rossman of "This year we're projecting online shopping to be 71 percent of the holiday season."

The survey found four main reasons people were moving online, only one of which had to do with the coronavirus.

  1. Convenience
  2. Avoiding Human Interaction
  3. Better Pricing
  4. Better Selections

"I do think the pandemic has really turbocharged the effect," said Rossman. "At least this year we're seeing a big year-over-year jump."

But a big increase in online shopping could be bad news for many local stores.

"When we get 71 percent of shoppers who say they are going to do most of their holiday shopping online I worry about what that means to the small mom and pop shops," said Rossman.

It's already been a tough year for small businesses because of the pandemic and stay-at-home orders.

"We've seen more bankruptcies in the first half of 2020 than we did all of last year," said Miro Copic, a marketing professor at SDSU. "You're not going to see the kind of doorbuster specials that are typical on Thanksgiving night or Black Friday. Black Friday will be completely different from where it was last year."

This week the CDC released new guidance that urged people to avoid standing in line in malls or packing into crowded stores in hopes of scoring some holiday deals.

"The department stores, the specialty retailers, small e-commerce retailers, those guys are going to be challenged this time around," said Copic.

Copic also says when someone is shopping in person, they are more likely to make impulse purchases than they are online.

"It's going to be a very different year," said Copic. "Retailers have ordered less. They've ordered fewer items so the selection that's normally available during the holidays, in particular, will be a little narrower this year."

Copic says that's because the stores don't want to be stuck with the extra inventory at a time when they are looking for ways to save money.

Both Copic and Rossman say the holiday shopping season kicks off on Amazon Prime day. This year it has been pushed back to October 13. Rossman thinks online deals will last longer this year, instead of only popping up for a day or two.

"I think we're going to see a long duration season this year," said Rossman. "I think it's good for shoppers because there's a long runway for good deals."

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