Did Shoppers Return to Black Friday or is Cyber Monday the New Norm?


Leon Niel

Black Friday shopping was not very popular in stores, but consumers are still purchasing items digitally.

Kerry Breen, Contributing Writer

This holiday season, Black Friday shoppers have drastically declined due to a surge in online shopping strategies as well as maintaining the avoidance of COVID-19. Subsequently, in the past year consumers have been experiencing shopping roadblocks due to rising inflation, in-demand item issues, and noticeably higher prices that holiday shoppers struggle to comply with. Although shopping habits appear different from previous years, the clientele is still flourishing in some of America’s top-producing retail outlets. 

Popular stores including Macy’s, Target, and Walmart are all adapting to the new norms, and even decided to remain closed on Thanksgiving as a courtesy to their employees. Furthermore, some retail stores were forced to cope with the increase in staff scarcity which reflected in their holiday hours. More recently in 2020, stores are starting to shift their employee priorities to warehouse locations in order to accommodate for the influx in online shopping.

Additionally, Black Friday deals were noticeably weaker than usual, while online prices and sales were breaking history. Popular clothing retailer, Zara, increased its annual 30% off sale to a staggering 40%. With the right promo codes, wardrobe items from online boutiques or outlets, including Princess Polly and Hello Molly, dropped by over 50%. Likewise, most major retailers avoided their annual “doorbuster” sales to decrease the previous commotion and chaos in which this event entailed. In the past, these doorbusters deals were known for prompting aggressive and even violent measures taken by the sale-thirsty shoppers. Post pandemic, most retailers are refraining from using this specific terminology in their advertisements. 

Item rates are skyrocketing daily, and they are reaching a 30-year record high. Rob Garf of Salesforce told Bloomberg News, “If consumers see 25 percent off, they should feel really good about that.” Although this is a strangely low rate, it is not repelling shoppers from spending on Black Friday, but rather promoting more shopping throughout the year.

As the holiday season is continuously expanding its duration, retailers are noticing more item consumption throughout late October and early November. This not only reduces holiday stress but also ensures the avoidance of supply delays. Stores are also advertising more deals and sales throughout the months, rather than on one single day. This same extension is occurring on websites too, as Cyber Monday is evolving into Cyber Month. According to Adobe data, Consumers have already spent $99.1 billion (about a 13 percent year-over-year increase) since the start of November. These records represent how consumers are taking this supply chain malfunction into account as they complete their holiday shopping. 

Digital shopping is becoming more and more popular as it can be done in the comfort of one’s own home and at their own convenience. More recently, the pandemic has provided more substantial support to this digital strategy, and it further ensures that online shopping is here to stay. Additionally, some stores including American Eagle Outfitters, are providing more merchandise on their online locations in which they label “Online Only”, to fuel this new craze.

Junior at Hingham High school, Kate Dibartolomeo works at American Eagle located in the Derby Street Shoppes. Last Friday she recalls, “There were just as many shoppers in the store as there usually are on any Saturday or Sunday, but I did notice that an abnormally high amount of online and store-pick up orders came in.” 

Another junior, Kelsey Tarby, conveyed, “Personally, I went out to actual stores this year for Black Friday because I find it exciting to see everybody out shopping and getting those good deals.” She continues in opposition to online shopping: “But with Cyber Monday you don’t get the whole experience and it is very impersonal. Call me old-fashioned, but there’s something about in-person shopping that draws me out to the stores.”

Following the extended period of lockdowns, Black Friday has reversed its previous ways most likely for the best. Holiday Shopping has been redefined from waking up early and hitting the malls or shops, to maybe staying up till midnight and grabbing a device to add items to a digital shopping cart, and then depending on shipping couriers to deliver it on schedule.