Holiday Shopping 2015: Thanksgiving Closures and Curbside Pickup

no black friday christmas walmart
Written by Jacqueline Emigh

Consumers will do things a bit differently this holiday shopping season, says the Consumer Technology Association (CTA). Here’s what to expect.

aNewDomainScreen Shot 2015-11-14 at 3.50.52 PM — The 2015 holiday shopping season will bring some new twists this year. Lots of stores will be closed on Thanksgiving, more consumers will push back purchases until closer to Christmas and more spending will gravitate to high-end TVs and various sorts of audio gear, said Shawn DuBravac, chief economist for the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), at CES Unveiled New York City.

Presumably, shoppers will delay their purchases in hopes of nabbing better deals – either online or in stores — as the hectic month between Thanksgiving and Christmas draws to a close, he suggested.

Turkey Day Store Closings

Meanwhile, some retail chains will give their employees an undoubtedly welcome break at the start of the season. REI has announced that, for the first time ever, its stores will be closed on the Friday after Thanksgiving, or Black Friday, the analyst noted. REI’s stores will also be closed on Cyber Thursday.

After industry-wide lackluster brick-and-mortar sales during last year’s Cyber Weekend, other chains will be opScreen Shot 2015-11-14 at 3.50.34 PMen on Friday but closed this year for Thanksgiving itself — although their web sites will be open, of course, for early-bird shoppers. These include chains like Staples, Costco, and BJ’s.

Online retail sales rose last year on Thanksgiving weekend, according to a number of surveys.

For giant retailers like Walmart and Target, bargain days are going on in stores this year for much longer than simply through Cyber Monday, DuBravac said.

By the way, Walmart recently announced a new holiday season strategy of offering the same product discounts for a full 90 days, instead of for “one weekend only.”

Macy’s recently acknowledged that its stores are overstocked due to laggard sales this fall.

Curbside Pickup

Also for the holiday buying season ahead, retailers will combine their web and brick-and-mortar sales channels in new ways, DuBravac pointed out. In some locations, for example, Target is already testing curbside pickup, enabling people to buy items through a mobile app and then swing by the store later to get the gear loaded into their cars

Although the analyst didn’t say so, Walmart already offers curbside pickups, but for groceries only.

Screen Shot 2015-11-14 at 3.50.12 PMMore Consumers To Buy Tech Products

According to annual surveys conducted by the CTA, known until this week as the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), overall holiday spending on tech products will remain just about flat in 2015 compared to recent years. So will dollars spent across categories such as TVs, audio, notebook PCs, tablets and smartphones.

More consumers than ever before — 72 percent — will buy consumer tech products this year, but shoppers will spend less per item than in past years, DuBravac said.

Increased Spending on Audio and TVs

The TV category constitutes one noteworthy exception. Households that spring for new TVs at all are likely to take the luxury route, going for new 4K Ultra HDTVs, he said. These new TVs offer four times the resolution of conventional HDTVs. Blu-ray discs for 4K Ultra HDTV are also expected to sell like crazy.

Other product categories, too, will see increased spending for certain types of products. In an interview with aNewDomain, DuBravac pointed to several areas of growth in the audio arena: headphones and earbuds, multi-room systems, Bluetooth-enabled products and soundbars. In case you’re wondering, soundbars are thin speakers that people typically place just below or in front of a TV in order to produce better quality audio than the TV alone offers.

True to the analyst’s words, a sizeable number of the dozens of products on display in and around CES Unveiled fell into these audio niches. Click here to read more about three that’ll be available by December’s end.

For aNewDomain, I’m Jacqueline Emigh.

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