Spokane Journal of Business

WSU study: Holiday shoppers to change their habits

77% of respondents say they’ll skip in-store buying on Black Friday this year

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Even before Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s restrictions limiting in-store retailers to 25% of occupancy in the effort to combat COVID-19, the Washington State University Carson College of Business’ yearly holiday retail report revealed most shoppers have no interest in in-store shopping on Thanksgiving Day or Black Friday.

In its fourth annual report, the WSU Carson College of Business survey shows 83% of Pacific Northwest shoppers don’t plan to shop on Thanksgiving, and 77% say they won’t be shopping the following day.

Though not a direct comparison, two years ago, 67% of Gen Z responders to the survey indicated they planned to shop in brick-and-mortar stores on Black Friday that year, and 66% of all respondents said they planned to shop in stores locally.

“The pandemic will have a significant impact on shopping behaviors this year, with more consumers shopping online than ever before,” says Joan Giese, a clinical associate professor of marketing with the Carson College of Business, in Pullman.

While the manner in which consumers will shop will be vastly different from years past, Giese says researchers found that many consumers feel holiday shopping will offer a respite and some sense of normalcy in an otherwise unusual holiday season.

“The act of shopping and gift giving still have the ability to provide a sense of connection,” she says.

While interest in major shopping events continues to decline, 70% of consumers think in-store shopping during the holiday season is worth it when it comes to helping businesses stay open during the pandemic, according to the survey.

This year’s study surveyed 1,700 consumers about their attitudes and perceptions toward holiday shopping in the midst of the presence of COVID-19 and sought to understand how the pandemic is changing shopping behaviors.

The survey says 91% of respondents report their shopping habits are different now from how they were prior to the pandemic, with 86% reporting their pandemic shopping experiences to be frustrating.

“Shoppers aren’t shopping more online by choice. Seventy-four percent of respondents wish they could go back to how they shopped before the pandemic,” the survey says.

“Unsurprisingly, 50% of shoppers report that changes to their shopping habits are primarily due to COVID-19, and plan to return to their regular shopping habits once it is safe to do so,” according to the survey.

Kevin Blocker
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