Today is Black Friday, an opportunity for stores and businesses in trouble in times of coronavirus

After months of declines in sales and businesses filing for bankruptcy, the date offers a small ray of hope to stores in EE.UU.

After months of declines in sales and businesses declaring bankruptcy, Black Friday offers a small ray of hope in the United States, the country hardest hit by the coronavirus.

Previously, Black Friday was the busiest business day of the year, drawing millions of customers eager to launch Christmas shopping.

But this they are not normal times: The economy is stagnating and those crowds are expected to shrink drastically as coronavirus cases increase and shoppers are increasingly turning to the internet.

Many retail stores closed their doors on Thanksgiving, but they are reinforcing their protocols security to ensure the most cautious customers that they can come the next day. For those who will not be convinced, businesses are moving their most attractive offers to Internet and strengthening its collection services in view of year-end sales amid a dark winter and with the pandemic still raging.

“Black Friday remains critical,” said Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail. “No retailer wants it to go out of business. It is still vital to do that consumers spend and get them in the mood for the holidays. “

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has rated shopping at crowded stores during the busy holiday season high-risk’‘, and pointed out that face-to-face purchases should be limited, also in supermarkets.

Instead, the health agency recommends shopping online, visiting open-air markets or using the collection services where workers take orders to the parking lot.

In recent years, the day after Thanksgiving has been losing its luster as the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season, with more and more stores offering promotions throughout the month. However, Black Friday has remained the busiest shopping day of the year, according to ShopperTrak, and is expected to revalidate the title this year as well.

There are reasons for hope. Retailers have succeeded in convincing shoppers to spend earlier by promoting great discounts in mid October. And customers have shown their willingness to spend on other parties like Easter and Halloween.

The National Retailers Federation (NRF), America’s leading retail trade group, has taken an optimistic view and expects shoppers to look for reasons to celebrate. The association expects sales in November and December to increase between 3.6 and 5.2% compared to 2019, compared to the 4% increase registered last year. Christmas sales have increased an average of 3.5% in the last five years.

“After everything that has happened, we think there is going to be a psychological factor that we owe it to ourselves and our families to have a better than normal Christmas,” said Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist at NRF. “There are risks to the economy if the virus continues to spread, but as long as consumers remain confident and optimistic, they will spend on the Christmas campaign.”

Online sales could generate even higher profits for the holidays. Black Friday is expected to generate 10 billion online sales, up 39% from a year ago, according to Adobe Analytics, which tracks sales at 80 of the top 100 online retailers in the United States.

And the Cyber ​​Monday, The Monday after Thanksgiving will continue to be the busiest online shopping day of the year with sales of $ 12.7 billion, an increase of 35%.

The pandemic has already benefited Amazon, which continues to strengthen its dominance on the internet as shoppers choose to click on their electronic devices rather than venture to stores.

Similarly, large commercial chains such as Walmart y Target, that were able to remain open during the spring lockdowns, had best results than other department stores and non-essential businesses that were forced to close. This disparity helped accelerate bankruptcy filings for more than 40 chains, including JC Penney and J.Crew, and caused hundreds of stores to close.

Associated Press

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