BusinessStacy M. Brown

Holiday Shopping in U.S. Curtailed by COVID-19 Health Pandemic

Black Friday spending fell below last year’s totals, as many economists anticipated, primarily because of the worsening pandemic, the country’s high unemployment rate and continued concerns over moratoriums on student loan payments, rent/mortgages and utility bills – most of which will end Dec. 31.

And with only a few weeks remaining before Christmas, The Washington Informer asked folks what items, if any, remain on their shopping lists and how the pandemic has affected their plans.

“I’ve actually noticed that I’m spending more since the pandemic started but my spending behavior has changed,” said Stephen Jones, the chief marketing officer at 420 DC, the District’s cannabis directory.

“I’m being more intentional with my spending and focusing on things that can actually improve my life or will make a good life-improving gift for someone else. And gifting, in general, is a larger chunk of my spending this year,” Jones relayed.

Julie Ramhold, a consumer analyst with DealNews.com, a shopping comparison website, said spending so much time at home this year has meant wanting to have more entertainment options.

“We’re opting to shop book and movie sales to stock up on titles that we can use to create our own traditions this year – namely a holiday movie marathon and a new tradition for us for Christmas Eve that will involve reading books and eating chocolate in the spirit of the Icelandic tradition,” Ramhold said.

According to the National Retail Federation, fewer holiday shoppers bought gifts during the five days from Black Friday to Cyber Monday and those who did spent less, as discounts started early this year.

The retail trade group said about 186.4 million shoppers bought holiday gifts, food, or decorations from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday.

According to CNBC, that’s less than the 189.6 million shoppers who bought items during that period last year but higher than the 165.8 million who shopped in 2018.

“It’s been a year for the history books. In an attempt to bring a little normalcy into the lives of the people I care about, I’m going to treat this year’s holiday shopping like any other year,” declared Todd Ramlin, the manager of Cable Compare.

“I’ll be social distancing and all the other safety precautions but in terms of spending and gifting, it’ll be just like other years. I’ve been doing most of my shopping online for years so nothing new there,” Ramlin said.

“I will, however, be shopping earlier since I think the demand for delivery is going to outpace capacity. It won’t be exactly like years past, but hopefully, it’ll be a little more normal than the rest of the year has been,” he said.

Benjamin Smith, the founder of Disco Skincare for Men, said the pandemic has taught him and many others a valuable lesson about how and when to shop.

“If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s life is too short to be so caught up in frivolous values,” Smith said. “With the tanking economy looming over our heads, I personally have been a little more conscious about how I am spending my funds, especially with so many suffering. I want to focus on fostering the holiday spirit in the most frugal and thoughtful ways possible.”

James Watson, the owner of Omaha Homes for Cash, said he’s among those who have learned to spend wisely because of the pandemic.

“This holiday season, spending is only done out of necessity. Being a full-time nurse and owner of a house flipping company, I am lucky to have incredible job security during these unprecedented times,” Watson offered.

“Regardless, if the economy around us falls apart, no person or profession is immune to hard times. I am using this opportunity to count my blessings, spend only when necessary and help those around me who are struggling more than myself,” he said.

Stacy M. Brown

I’ve worked for the Daily News of Los Angeles, the L.A. Times, Gannet and the Times-Tribune and have contributed to the Pocono Record, the New York Post and the New York Times. Television news opportunities have included: NBC, MSNBC, Scarborough Country, the Abrams Report, Today, Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, Imus in the Morning and Anderson Cooper 360. Radio programs like the Wendy Williams Experience, Tom Joyner Morning Show and the Howard Stern Show have also provided me the chance to share my views.

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