Due to tight U.S. inventories, “Black Friday” was delayed until November Reuters

© Reuters. File photo: People line up to shop on Black Friday in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, USA on November 27, 2020. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo

Authors: Richa Naidu and Arriana McLymore

Chicago (Reuters)-In the face of year-end inventory scarcity and worker shortages, retailers are turning “Black Friday” into a month-long event.

The world’s largest retailer Wal-Mart (NYSE:) said on Monday that it has started “Black Friday” discounts https://www.reuters.com/business/retail-consumer/amazon-bets-black-friday-deals- Early -holiday-shopping-push-2021-10-04, for example, AirPods and KidKraft dollhouses are 30 USD off. Wal-Mart will close its stores on Thanksgiving for the second year in a row and said it will only offer the same discount in stores on Friday.

Competitor large retailer Target (NYSE:) started its own Black Friday promotions on Sunday, such as up to 30% discount on Samsung (KS:) and TCL flat-panel TVs, and 50% discount on headphones. Target said on Monday that from now on, it will close all approximately 1,900 stores on Thanksgiving Day.

The U.S. holiday shopping season kicked off with “access control” discounts before the Thanksgiving weekend. On Black Friday the day after Thanksgiving, consumers waited in line outside physical stores across the country. In recent years, shopping in Black Friday stores has faded, and online sales on that day exceeded physical sales for the first time https://www.reuters.com/article/usa-holidayshopping-sales-idINKBN1Y50S5 2019.

This year, retailers started to promote the online holiday “special sale” as early as September https://www.reuters.com/world/the-great-reboot/amid-supply-chain-snarls-retailers-pitch-early-holiday- shopping -2021-10-01, because of the ongoing supply chain deadlock https://www.reuters.com/business/retail-consumer/global-supply-chain-logjams-costs-focus-restaurant-chains-report-earnings- 2021 -10-26 threatened to prevent them from bringing new products from Asia to the United States in the weeks leading up to the Christmas holiday. But bargaining is moderate. According to the Adobe (NASDAQ:) Digital Economy Index, retailers are expected to cut prices by 5% to 25% this Friday, only slightly higher than the 5% to 10% discount they offered in October.

Best Buy stated at an earnings conference on Tuesday https://www.reuters.com/business/retail-consumer/best-buy-forecasts-holiday-quarter-comparable-sales-below-estimates-2021-11-23 its October Black Friday promotions in the middle of the month hurt quarterly profit margins.

As shoppers turn to online shopping, retailers are increasingly reducing Black Friday business hours. “Will discounts be as widespread and deep as they have usually been in the past few years?” NPD Group Chief Industry Analyst Marshal Cohen asked: “No, if the demand for the product is high and the supply is low, it won’t-there is no reason to advocate discounts.”

Maggie Smith, a 70-year-old artist from Tucson, Arizona, said: “The store is trying to scold the public for thinking,’Buy now, otherwise it might be gone.”

According to a Reuters/IPSOS survey of about 1,000 people, more than one-fifth of shoppers said they plan to buy gifts mainly online this year, while only 12% said they will mainly shop in stores. According to the Adobe Digital Economy Index, online sales on Black Friday itself are expected to increase by 5% to reach US$9.5 billion.

Both Wal-Mart and Target said they will increase investment in same-day options, including allowing shoppers to pick up items ordered online.

However, when the supply of warehouse workers is in short supply, completing fast online orders may put pressure on the retailer’s labor force.

Andy Halliwell, senior director of retail at consulting firm Publicis Sapient, said: “We see these changes and double the time for salary increases, but it will be painful.” “It will come from retailers’ profits.”

JC Penney (OTC:) is owned by Simon Property Group (NYSE:) and Brookfield Asset Management. In addition to 25,000 seasonal employees, it also hopes to hire 3,000 supply chain workers in the distribution center. The retailer offers a retention bonus of $2,000 to select supply chain employees in certain locations.

Macy’s, which plans to hire 71,000 seasonal workers, said that nearly one-third of them will work in operations centers across the country, while Kohl’s said in July that it will provide assistance to left-behind hourly shops and supply chain employees. Provide bonuses of up to $400. For the holidays.

To be sure, some retailers stated that they are preparing for a comeback in physical stores and that they have sufficient inventory.

William White, Wal-Mart’s chief marketing officer in the United States, told Reuters: “We are seeing our customers returning to shop.” White also said that Wal-Mart has expanded its toy categories “more than twice.”

For Marc Ivan, a 23-year-old student in Philadelphia, going to the store is not a tradition he intends to give up, although he said he will shop online as early as possible this week.

“I will still go out on Black Friday, just for casual shopping and hanging out with friends.”

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