As the holidays approach, more consumers turn to online shopping

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The pandemic has turned holiday shopping on its head this year. And two marketing experts say the pace of shopping online has accelerated like never before.

Sheri Lambert, assistant professor of marketing and supply chain management at Temple University, said Black Friday deals started weeks ago, and the traditional Black Friday drill of an early wakeup call, huge crowds and harried sales clerks are now gone.

“We’re not going to have that rush, because we can’t have the crowds,” said Lambert. “COVID is spiking again, so we’re not going to have that.”

Instead, the slow trickle to online shopping has become a torrent, and Lambert said the National Federation of Retailers is predicting an explosion of virtual shopping, with 60% of consumers saying they are doing their holiday shopping online.

“Last year, it was 12 to 14%,” she said.

But Lambert said hardcore shoppers will still show up on Black Friday.

Carol Kaufman-Scarborough, professor of marketing in the School of Business at Rutgers University-Camden, said retailers should take a page from the big amusement parks, which have other things for people to do while they are waiting in line.

“You can give them a number, so that there’s no arguments. It’s more like an amusement park, so that you have a queue that’s manageable but with something to do,” Kaufman-Scarborough advised.

She said retailers are still expecting cash registers to be ringing all the way through Giving Tuesday and beyond.

Lambert echoed that, saying consumers like the in-person shopping experience.

“We like to go, we like to touch, we like to feel, so it’s not going to die, it’s just going to change,” Lambert said.