Holiday Shopping During a Pandemic

Due to COVID-19, there has been a large increase in online shopping, negatively impacting small local businesses

     Not long ago, at a time when there was not a pandemic, department stores were flooded with shoppers during the holiday season. Limited capacity and social distancing for indoor shopping have forced millions of people across the country to revert to shopping online. Under these new circumstances, corporations have altered their focus from the indoor shopping experience and have shifted to cater to online orders. 

     “It’s no longer about products, pricing, and promotions. It’s to prepare, perceive and then pursue,” said Michael Brown, a partner at consulting firm Kearney’s consumer products and retail practice. “We know consumers are going to increase their e-commerce shopping. As a retailer, how do I get that into their hands in a cost-efficient manner?” 

     The largest online shopping site, Amazon, announced Thanksgiving Day consumer sales grew 22% compared to last year to $5.1 billion and Black Friday sales jumped a similar amount to $9 billion. Cyber Monday raked $10.8 in sales a 15% increase compared to 2019 becoming the largest online shopping day in U.S. history. In total, the early holiday shopping season has grossed $106.5 billion in sales, an increase of 27.7%. But what does this mean for department stores that typically flourish during the winter holidays? Macy’s reported a quarterly same-store sales decline of more than 20%. According to CNBC, digital sales grew 27%, but those gains weren’t enough to offset losses at its stores. And with a predicted resurgence in closing stores in the nearby future, Macy’s has had to temporarily close down many of its branches. 

     The scene of empty stores with holiday decorations makes for a less than spirited holiday season. Though it isn’t only large corporations who have been affected by COVID-19. Local businesses have either been struggling to survive or have closed permanently. During these difficult times, it is vital for consumers to support stores in their community. If you are looking for a captivating book to read over break, or to give to someone as a gift, you should stop by the Community Bookstore located in Park Slope. To find out more about local businesses near Poly or to support them, visit the Poly Prep Small Business initiative. Although the festive holiday consumer feeling may be lost, the most valuable gift this season is spending time with family in addition to the vaccine.  The Pfizer and Biontech vaccine was approved by the FDA on Friday, December 10. According to the New York Times, the first raft of 6.4 million vaccines will be distributed within 24 hours of authorization and will be distributed to health care workers and nursing home residents. The substantial aid from the vaccine will help uplift the disenchanting feeling of a lost holiday season and gives everyone a chance to look forward to feeling joyful. Until then, remember to keep persevering and look out for a package at your doorstep.