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Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Holiday Retail 2021: In-store shopping is back, though it’s complicated

On Black Friday, over Thanksgiving weekend, and throughout the rest of the holiday season, get ready to walk through hordes of shoppers.

Retailers in Southern California and across the country say people are looking forward to flocking to shopping centers, downtown and small businesses in the coming six weeks. Analysts say that after spending the last year in pandemic lockdown, they want to take in all the lights, deals and hustle and bustle of humanity, a traditional holiday shopping experience. Plus, Santa is back at the mall for in-person visits and photos.

Certainly, the retail picture this season is not entirely rosy, with concerns about inflation, pandemic-related supply chain disruptions, labor shortages and a series of brazen group robberies in the shopping and dining sectors.

But in-store shopping, coupled with strong online sales, could drive a record $859 billion in sales, the National Retail Federation predicts.

“I think people want to stick out. I think they really missed the store environment,” said Katherine Cullen, senior director of industry and consumer insights at the National Retail Federation.

“Think about last year, when people were canceling Thanksgiving plans and moving things virtually,” Cullen continued. “There was a lot of fear and uncertainty. This year, people are gathering with family, reviving their traditions, and getting out and shopping is part of it for many consumers.”

This is my first look at Karen Streck, senior vice president of customer experience and brand marketing for Westfield Mall in Southern California.

“We conducted a Pulse survey among shoppers, and 67% said they planned to spend more money and more time shopping than in 2019,” she said. “The three words he expressed most often were ‘happy’, ‘excited’ and ‘interesting’.”

Streck said more than 60% of Westfield consumers surveyed plan to eat out during the holiday season—a sure sign they’re feeling more comfortable with being out in public, despite the Delta version.

But finding that toy or any other item you’ve been counting on? It can’t be easy.

A family of shoppers walks past Victoria Gardens in Rancho Cucamonga, Wednesday, November 24, 2021. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

Lars Perner, assistant professor of clinical marketing at the USC Marshall School of Business, said shoppers should be prepared for limited in-store inventory as a result of supply chain backup.

“Very little merchandise will be available,” he said. “A lot of shipments are still on hold, especially toys. Plenty of shipwrecks in the water offer the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. And once they get the stuff ashore it takes time to lift it. ,

He said the movement of goods has slowed down due to bottlenecks in warehouses and paucity of truck drivers to make deliveries.

“When a trucker delivers goods somewhere and comes back for more they often can’t find a place to leave the container they used,” Perner said. “It is a vicious cycle.”

Online shopping, which became routine for people during the pandemic, is also expected to be a big driver of sales, especially on Black Friday and Cyber ​​Monday, said Vivek Pandya, principal insights analyst at Adobe. But shipping delays for online purchases can drive people to the store, because they want to make sure they have their gifts.

“On top of pent-up demand, there are many other reasons why in-store shopping is on everyone’s list this year: from long shipping times to limited inventory due to global supply chain problems and manufacturing shortages,” Tracy Dietlin, senior marketing manager for Broadway Plaza in Walnut Creek.

Strak agreed.

Holiday Retail 2021: In-store shopping is back, though it's complicated
Buyers Wednesday, November 24, 2021 at the Glendale Galleria. Retailers across the country say people are looking forward to flocking to shopping centers, downtown and small businesses in the coming six weeks. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

“People want to know that they can actually get the gifts they want,” she said. “It’s driving more people to brick-and-mortar stores.”

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And when items run out of stock, a growing number of retailers are offering gift cards as a backstop.

“If they have a limited amount of items they’re pushing gift cards to bring shoppers back when the products they want are in stock,” Streck said.

According to the NRF survey, this “pent-up” demand is likely to fuel the rule of Black Friday as the busiest shopping day of 2021. Last year, crowds in shops and malls were “mild” and the enthusiasm was “muted”, the retailers said. But this year, some two-thirds of the estimated 108 million people shop on Friday, November 26 — most of the big stores were expected to close on Thanksgiving Day — planning to do so in stores, the survey shows.

It’s unclear whether these expected crowds will be enough to replicate the frenzy of Black Friday past, when shoppers lined up overnight for deals that broke doors early in the morning.

Supply-chain concerns have prompted retailers to be more strategic about when and how they offer specials, encouraging customers to shop early so stores can manage their inventory. Keeping merchandise in stock can prove more challenging for small businesses than for large retailers.

Analysts say supply chain issues and labor shortages mean consumers must be prepared to be flexible. Kenneth Cochran, senior director of consumer retail group at Alvarez & Marsal, a New York-based firm that studies retail trends, said he is concerned about dwindling inventories in December.

“On a personal level, I started telling people a month ago, ‘Buy what you want for Christmas now because it can’t be early December,'” he said. “It’s also going to be an issue for people who wait too long, who like to shop the day before Christmas. Stores will have stuff to buy, but not necessarily (electronic) items or toys.” Which is hot this year.”

Similarly, Adobe’s Pandya said online shoppers shouldn’t wait too long for big discounts on popular gaming devices, games, toys and high-end smart devices. “We’re really recommending that people get hold of these products as soon as possible,” Pandya said. “In previous years, they may have waited for the discount, but (products) may not be available when the discount is available.”

Jeff Badstubner, managing director of JLL, a real estate management and investment firm, also wonders whether staff shortages in stores and restaurants will dampen people’s fun.

Retailers are struggling to fill nearly 1 million positions, and Badstubner cited a report this week that Macy’s asked corporate employees to volunteer for shifts at its department stores on Black Friday and other busy days. was asked to As the Washington Post reports, Macy’s has 76,000 positions to fill in its stores, call centers and warehouses.

Badstubner said he recently went to a Starbucks and saw a sign saying it was closing at 2 p.m. due to staff shortages.

“If you take it as a small microcosm and multiply it for everyone in the retail sector, it’s a huge threat to the holidays,” Badstubner said. “The challenge is this: If you or I walk into a store this holiday season, and the service is terrible — there’s no one there to help us — and we’re frustrated with long lines, we can say, ‘This Forget it, and go home and order online.'”

Staff writer Kevin Smith contributed to this article.

World Nation News Deskhttps://www.worldnationnews.com
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