Coronavirus Means Less Retail Sales this Holiday: Report

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Coronavirus Means Less Retail Sales this Holiday: Report

Will the economy get enough of a holiday-boost?

A new survey by the consulting firm Deloitte is forecasting that shoppers will visit fewer stores than ever this upcoming holiday season.

The data is pointing toward consumers visiting just 5.2 retail stores on average, according to the firm’s annual holiday survey that polled more than 4,000 individuals in mid-September. That figure is noticeably down from last year when it was seven.

With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic still making up most of the headlines, safety remains a top priority among holiday shoppers. The survey discovered that 51 percent of respondents are anxious about entering stores due to the virus.

Consumers are also aiming to shorten the time spent on holiday shopping. The survey revealed that shoppers are hoping to complete their purchases within 5.9 weeks, which is 1.5 weeks lower than last year. In 2018, it was 7.1 weeks.

More people are seeking to shop local as well. Holiday shoppers are planning to travel just 9.6 miles on average when venturing out to stores and malls. The survey found that 69 percent of respondents would prefer to do their shopping close to home.

Other recent reports are also seeing similar trends. According to ShopperTrak’s annual holiday forecast, traffic in stores is expected to be down 22 percent to 25 percent year-over-year during the six weeks of the holiday season.

The report also noted that the ten busiest shopping days of the holiday season will account for 34.2 percent of all holiday traffic, which is down considerably from last year, when it was 46.5 percent.

With less foot traffic at stores due to the pandemic, e-commerce sales have continued its months-long surge. Between the first and second quarter of this year, overall sales were higher by more than 30 percent, according to recent data released by the U.S. Department of Commerce. E-commerce now accounts for more than 16 percent of all U.S. sales.

In the last quarter, Amazon reported sales of $88.9 billion, up 40 percent from $63.4 billion a year prior and well ahead of the company’s own forecast of $75 billion to $81 billion. The recently concluded Prime Day is expected to help the company report a record-setting fourth quarter—perhaps even surpassing $100 billion in quarterly revenue for the first time ever, according to analysts surveyed by FactSet.

Walmart reported a 97 percent surge in online sales, which came after the company’s digital sales rose 74 percent in the first quarter. Target also largely blew past every forecast on Wall Street as it attracted millions of new customers online—which helped the company nearly triple its digital sales from a year earlier.

Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.

Image: Reuters