Black Friday In-Store Shopping To Make a Comeback This Year, As Holiday Spending Returns to Normal

After the pandemic halted physical holiday shopping for many in 2020, consumers are ready to hit the stores this year.

In-store shopping will make a major comeback this year on Black Friday, according to KPMG’s consumer pulse survey for the holiday season of 2021. According to the survey of more than 1,000 consumers, 32% plan to shop in person on Black Friday this year, compared with 16% last year. Respondents also reported that they plan to attend more in-person holiday gatherings this year.

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According to Matt Kramer, KPMG U.S.’s national sector leader for consumer and retail, the results from the survey indicate an excitement about getting back to physical stores and gatherings in safe groups.

“Consumers are very interested in going back out and shopping,” he said.

Overall spending for the holiday season is also set to return to normal levels. Respondents plan to increase their holiday spending budgets by 5% compared to last year, with plans to spend on computers and hardware, jewelry, travel, and games.

“After having its future relevance questioned last year, Black Friday makes a strong comeback securing its top spot as the most important shopping event of this holiday season,” said KPMG’s national advisory and strategy leader Scott Rankin in a statement. “As nearly one-third of consumers surveyed have definite plans to shop in-store that day, the search for deals pairs nicely with increased holiday spending budgets.”

The survey results this year indicate a reversal of last year’s more conservative approach to holiday shopping during the height of the pandemic. This year, almost half of respondents said they felt the economy was back or on its way to pre-COVID-19 levels. 83% of respondents who had jobs that were jobs impacted by COVID-19 said they were now back at work. 55% reported that their household income has returned to pre-COVID-19 levels, with 12% saying it was even higher than before.

But some pandemic-era trends are here to stay. 60% of holiday shopping is still expected to be online, marking an 8% increase over 2020.

In-store and online shopping will both be impacted by global supply chain slowdowns including shipping delays, port congestion, and factory shutdowns. Such problems have made it difficult for retailers to receive enough inventory to meet demand in stores and online.

Shoppers are aware of these developments, with more than 50% of respondents expressing concern about shortages in stores and shipping delays. To prepare for out-of-stocks, 61% of respondents said they plan to start shopping for the holidays in October. This early start to the shopping season could further impact the availability of inventory later on around Black Friday.

“That’s the big question,” Kramer said. “Will the inventory last to Black Friday? I think everybody’s hopeful that it will, but there’s certainly a lot of media attention around the supply chain challenges.”

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