Black Friday is traditionally seen as the kick-off to the holiday shopping season in America, but inflation seems to have changed consumer behavior this year in such a way that Black Friday will be somewhat eclipsed by Small Business Saturday.
A new survey from Bankrate.com found that 59% of holiday shoppers are likely to visit stores on Small Business Saturday, while 56% plan to make purchases on Black Friday.
Retailers will continue to see a lot of traffic this Thanksgiving weekend, both in person and online, with about 80% of shoppers saying they will shop on Friday, Saturday or Cyber Monday, according to the survey.
But trends indicate that several months of high prices have prompted consumers to plan ahead for the 2022 holiday season.
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Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst for Bankrate, told FOX Business he speculates this will be the most “normal” Christmas shopping season in three years since most of the pandemic concerns have subsided. But he says that “inflation is now the dominant theme”.
In a previous study, Bankrate found that 40% of holiday shoppers change their habits because of higher prices by seeking more discounts, shopping earlier, and purchasing fewer items.
Rossman pointed out that about half of shoppers surveyed started buying Christmas gifts prior to Halloween, which is similar to last year. But he says this year “the motivation is different.”
While the 2021 shopping season was plagued by supply chain issues, they have largely healed. Now many retailers are suffering from too much stock, forcing them to offer more discounts.
“This should be the best discount season in years,” Rossman predicted.
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Rossman says the evidence is already there, with several retailers including Amazon, Target, Walmart and Best Buy launching Black Friday and Cyber Monday-style deals in early October.
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He pointed out that consumers are still spending money, but they are primarily thinking about where every dollar goes, as essentials such as gas, groceries and housing eat up a larger share of the household budget.
Since many people have started shopping early, Rossman explains, this weekend’s shopping may not look exactly like it did before the pandemic. There may not be that many shoppers queuing for door busters at 5 a.m., as there have been plenty of deals available online for weeks.
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“I really think in-person shopping has a social component that a lot of people have missed during the pandemic,” Rossman added. “I think there’s a sense of nostalgia and support for local businesses that will lead many people to gather friends and relatives to do some shopping over Thanksgiving weekend.”