Holiday shopping back to pre-pandemic levels

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Concerns with supply chain issues, inflation and the COVID-19 pandemic did not stop consumers from buying gifts during the five-day holiday shopping weekend.

Bridget Lambert

“Overall, we’re very optimistic. It’s been a good season so far and we think it’s going to continue very strong,” West Virginia Retailers Association President Bridget Lambert told MetroNews Tuesday.

Sales increased during Black Friday, especially with many people feeling confident to shop in stores again.

“We think the personal connections that people have when they’re out shopping with other consumers or with in-store personnel, people were missing that,” Lambert said.

The National Retail Federation reported Tuesday nearly 180 million Americans shopped in stores and online from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday.

Lambert said holiday sales are expected to rise between 8.5 percent and 10.5 percent this season. Much of that has to do with increased vaccinations and employees returning to work.

Supply chain issues; however, have caused some people to shop earlier this year.

“There is consumer fears of not having the product or having an order put on a back order status. They do fear that it may not come in,” Lambert said.

About 104.9 million shoppers visited stores, up from 92.3 million in 2020, according to the NRF. The overall number of online shoppers decreased to a total of 127.8 million from 145.4 million last year.

Black Friday remained the most popular day for in-store shopping and online shopping, surpassing Cyber Monday.

“We saw a slight down tick of shopping on Cyber Monday. We believe retailers brought out deals earlier this season. People started shopping in October,” Lambert said. “Online shopping has become the norm.”

The importance of supporting local businesses remained top of mind for many consumers, with 71 percent indicating they were shopping specifically for Small Business Saturday.

Morgan Morrison, owner of Rock City Cake Company in Charleston, said people made an effort to shop local.

“You have that crowd on top of the foot traffic from Holly Jolly Brawley, from everything going on downtown and the families visiting, I think overall, especially for us, it was a really good weekend,” she said Monday on “580 Live” heard on MetroNews affiliate 580-WCHS.

There was a shift in buying patterns last year. Many people turned to gifts and not experiences due to the pandemic, Lambert said.

Top gift purchases over the weekend included clothing and accessories (51 percent), toys (32 percent), gift cards (28 percent), books/music/movies/video games (28 percent) and electronics (24 percent).

The holiday shopping season runs through the end of the year.

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