Black Friday: Shoppers have 'pent-up desire' to spend, say experts
We're teetering on the fiscal cliff. Sandy is estimated to cost NYC at least $50 billion. Costs of staples such as housing and medical care are soaring. And it looks like tax increases are on the horizon.
You might think we will knot shut our purse strings this holiday shopping season to save up for tomorrow.
"Anyone who has recovered from Sandy is in the spending spirit," because they are relieved to be safe and tired of pinching pennies, said Marshal Cohen, chief retail analyst for the NPD Group in Port Washington. Cohen predicts a boost over last year's Black Friday sales, reasoning that the storm and ensuing gas shortage that kept stores closed and consumers away from them created "pent-up desire."
"Frugality fatigued" customers cheered by news that the economy is improving will take advantage of discounts, some of which may be themed to Sandy, Cohen said. People believe we are in an economic recovery and "part of recovery is to self-indulge," by buying gifts for ourselves at the same time we're getting gifts for others," said Cohen, adding that "the American consumer is the most entitled consumer of all." New York shoppers will also be in a mood to indulge their children to assure them life is back to normal, he added.
While people who incurred severe financial reversals as a result of the storm may not be splurging, many others will be spending in relief that both Sandy and the presidential election is over, added Lars Perner, an assistant professor of clinical marketing at University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business.
When people survive a big challenge, they "feel a need to reward themselves," Perner explained. "It's like buying relief. Americans have had more experience being affluent and they have much easier access to credit," and like to use it more than folks in other countries, noted Perner.
Sales will depend in part on weather conditions, but will be helped by the fact that Thanksgiving, and by extension, Black Friday, fall early this year. A few extra shopping days before Christmas "makes a huge difference," in the bottom line, Perner said.
While shoppers are eager to spend, they remain price conscious and will choose more practical gifts this year, added Cohen, who augured that shoes and boots, appliances, sporting goods, fashion accessories and fragrance will be strong categories.
"There's an absence of new and exciting products," that drive shopper excitement, he observed. "If you didn't get an e-reader or a tablet last year, you're going to get one this year." he predicted.