Holiday shopping season: Record or bust?

With all of the challenges so far in 2020, it is hard to predict how successful this holiday shopping season will be and the pandemic has slowed things down drastically for sure. The season always starts with the traditional Black Friday sales extravaganza and this year’s report indicates it will be down a bit from about $12B in 2019 to $11B this year. Black Friday is an important financial day for retailers as the experts say this is when their financial picture turns from red to black. Probably no huge lines in the wee hours of the night waiting for doorbuster deals. And many of the big box stores were closed on Thanksgiving Day.

But the holiday season sales are made up of more than one piece – Black Friday, Cyber Monday — the Monday after Thanksgiving — and then the December sales. Early predictions for the total holiday sales are up 3.6%-5.2% — $755.3B-$766.7B — by the National Federal of Retailers. The expectations for online Cyber Monday are in line to be a one-day record in history for this day — $11.2B-$13B. In-store foot traffic is expected to be significantly off with online sales booming to record heights.

The pandemic and health issues will have an effect on total sales but the economy is strong and there is a pent-up demand in terms of buying goods and services since many have been “locked down” for the past few months. The overall sales picture sounds somewhat rosy, but we will have to wait for the results.

George R. Cook