The days of consumers flooding store aisles in hopes of nabbing the greatest Black Friday deals are long gone, a recent survey indicated.
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Shopping on the day after Thanksgiving had become a staple for consumers due to the fact that it has been deemed one of the best days of the year to save on big-ticket items. That is until the coronavirus pandemic upended traditional holiday plans.
This year, only 2.6% of consumers plan to hit the stores this Black Friday while the virus continues to grip the nation, according to a survey by Staples.
It's a stark contrast to years past. In 2019, consumers spent $869.4 billion on in-store purchases, a 2.4% uptick from the year prior, according to Staples. In fact, 8% of respondents said they hit the stores every year for the last five years and 85% have shopped in-store on Black Friday at least once within the last five years, according to the survey.
According to the National Retail Federation, about 124 million people shopped in stores over Thanksgiving weekend in 2019 while 75.7 million shopped in-store and online. Black Friday had the busiest day for in-store foot traffic that year, seeing about 84.2 million shoppers, NRF said.
This year, however, more than 25% of consumers say they are definitely not participating in in-store Black Friday shopping due to the pandemic, according to Staples' survey. Meanwhile, an additional 40% of shoppers say they are less or slightly less likely to participate due to the current environment.
About 17% of shoppers say they won't be convinced to shop in-store no matter how good the sale may be.
However, consumers will still have an appetite for holiday sales, especially during the economic downturn.
To help ease consumer fears, retailers have not only upped safety measures in stores but they have spread out their traditional one-day deals throughout the season in an effort to prevent large crowds from gathering.
For instance, Walmart created three separate savings events across November with each event beginning online at Walmart.com and then continuing in stores. Likewise, Home Depot announced in September that it would spread its deals out over a two-month span.
Some retailers, such as Target, launched sales as early as October to offer "flexibility" for shoppers.
However, after months of shelter-in-place orders, consumers have become more comfortable shopping from home. That will likely lead to an increase in online Black Friday purchases this year, says Dora Bock, associate professor of marketing at the Harbert College of Business at Auburn University in Alabama.
For its findings, Staples surveyed 2,000 consumers from across the U.S. about their in-store Black Friday shopping experiences from 2015 to 2019.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.