Online Shopping Expected to Drive Retailers’ Holiday Sales

December 3, 2020

Black Friday began years ago as a one-day event where retailers across the country slashed prices to attract holiday shoppers into stores. Then the deals began to stretch into the weekend, then into Thanksgiving itself, and finally this year holiday sales spilled online into more than a weeklong extravaganza. With many retailers either remaining closed for indoor customers or open at limited capacity, experts expect that e-commerce will drive sales for many companies this holiday season.

Although foot traffic at retailers has dropped significantly during the pandemic, online sales by credit card increased by 212 percent over the past week. The Post Office and other shipping services have also been busy moving plenty of packages as a result of the upsurge in online orders. During Thanksgiving week, shipping firms transported 273 million packages, an increase of 43 million from last year. 

Deep discounts from sites like Amazon also added to the uptick in online orders. Analysts predict that climbing e-commerce sales could lead to a prosperous holiday shopping season for retailers. Still, uncertainty surrounding the pandemic has caused many businesses to stay cautious this year. “Much uncertainty still remains around the depth and duration of the pandemic as well as economic impacts of sustained high unemployment rates,” said Best Buy CEO Corie Barry. 

Questions:

  1. Why are many retailers committing to online sales this holiday season?
  2. Do you think consumers will spend more or less money during this year’s holiday season compared to previous years? Why or why not?

Sources: Katherine Riley, “2020 Holiday Sales: How, Where and When Consumers Are Buying,” The Wall Street Journal, December 3, 2020; Micah Maidenberg, “Ahead of Black Friday, Retailers Brace for an Exceptional Holiday Season,” The Wall Street Journal, November 25, 2020

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