Black Friday is traditionally considered the start of America’s Christmas shopping season, but inflation appears to have changed consumer behavior this year to the point that Black Friday will be slightly overshadowed by Small Business Saturday.
A new survey released by Bankrate.com found that 59 percent of holiday shoppers are likely to visit stores on Small Business Saturday, while 56 percent plan to shop on Black Friday.
Retailers will still see significant traffic both in-person and online this Thanksgiving weekend, as usual, with about 80 percent of shoppers saying they will shop on Friday, Saturday or Cyber Monday, according to the survey.
But trends show that several months of high prices have prompted consumers to plan ahead for the 2022 holidays.
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Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst for Bankrate, told FOX Business that he speculates this will be the most “normal” holiday shopping season in three years since most concerns about the pandemic have faded. But he says “inflation is now the dominant theme”.
In a previous study, Bankrate found that 40% of holiday shoppers are changing their habits due to higher prices, looking for more discounts, shopping earlier and buying fewer items.
Rossman pointed out that roughly half of the shoppers surveyed started buying Christmas gifts before Halloween, which is similar to last year. But he says this year “the motivation is different.”
Although the 2021 shopping season was dogged by supply chain issues, they have largely healed. Many retailers are now burdened with 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 but are being extra careful about where each dollar goes as essentials like gas, groceries and housing eat up larger shares of household budgets.
Because many people have already started shopping early, Rossman explained, shopping this weekend may not look exactly like it did before the pandemic. There may not be as many buyers queuing up at 5am for door-busters, given that many offers have already been available online for weeks.
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“I really think there’s a social component to personal shopping that a lot of people missed out on during the pandemic,” Rossman added. “I think there’s a sense of nostalgia and supporting local businesses that will lead to a lot of people getting some friends and family members together to hit up some stores over Thanksgiving weekend.”