Shoppers are already deciding to skip in-store shopping during the holidays because of the coronavirus.
“I plan on doing my holiday shopping 100% online this year!” said Madelyn, a mother from Sacramento, California. “I normally do about 80% of my shopping online.”
“I will not be going to the mall to shop,” said Mary, who works for a merchandising company in San Diego, California. “If I am already in a store for work, I may make a purchase. I don’t feel that an item is worth putting my health and the health of others [at risk].”
Stores such as Walmart and Target have already announced that they will not be opening their stores on Thanksgiving, breaking a 10-year-long tradition of stores opening after Thanksgiving dinner.
“I work retail and hate having to be away from my family on Thanksgiving just because they want to open early for Black Friday,” Mason, who works at a Target in California, told the Washington Examiner. “COVID-19 is even more reason for them to not be open, as Black Friday could be a very dangerous day for the virus.”
Crowded stores would make it impossible to follow coronavirus guidelines such as people standing 6 feet apart and employees making sure every shopper has a mask on. Black Friday could create the exact conditions that public health experts say facilitate spreading the coronavirus.
Stores have announced precautions to avoid large crowds by starting holiday sales earlier and letting them go on longer than normal. However, some people do not feel comfortable shopping in stores no matter the precautions that are being taken.
“I already do most of my shopping online, but yes, especially during the holidays, I plan on it as well,” said Mason.
Online shopping has seen a huge spike since the coronavirus hit and lockdowns occurred. Those who plan to shop online this holiday season don’t see shopping in stores as a major part of the season.
“After 20 years in retail, the holiday spirit left a long time ago. I have seen the behavior in customers during the holidays that is shameful,” said Mary.
“I honestly don’t think it’ll make any difference to me. To me, shopping doesn’t add to the holiday spirit!” said Madelyn.
Although small businesses were able to switch online when the pandemic hit, they weren’t able to compete with businesses like Amazon, whose sales went up dramatically during the lockdown. Online shopping has the potential to hurt small businesses during the holiday season as well.
“The smaller ones will have a tougher time because most will not have the benefit of analytics that the biggest retailers have,“ Bob Phibbs, CEO of the Retail Doctor, a retail consulting company, told the Washington Examiner. “We are all crossing our fingers that we’ll be like Europe, which has been recovering, and people have been getting back to shopping at brick-and-mortar stores.”
However, Phibbs does not believe online sales will overtake in-store shopping since people will want to get out after being in lockdown for so long. “This holiday is all going to be about feelings, family, and getting close to the people you love, and that’s usually going to be shopping together and going out,” he said.
The busiest shopping days of the year, where stores see the biggest crowds, are during the holiday season in November and December. Millions brace these crowds every year to go shopping for Christmas and other events.
“I like the thrill of walking through stores. I want to see and touch what I’m buying. Too many unknowns when shopping online,” Tammi Stafford, 35, told the Washington Examiner. However, Stafford is on board with stores being closed on Thanksgiving.
Stafford had a tradition in her family growing up where the girls would get up early for Black Friday, go out for breakfast, and go shopping. Since stores started opening on Thanksgiving, she had to continue the tradition with her kids by shopping on Thanksgiving.
“I am an avid Thanksgiving shopper, and I go every year, but it’s really disheartening that in order to continue this tradition with my own daughters that I have to lose family time with my husband and my sons. I am 100% in favor of them being closed for Thanksgiving,” Stafford said.
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