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Here are 5 takeaways about how COVID-19 has changed retail

Alexandria Burris
 
| Indianapolis Star

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This holiday season will be like no other as an ever-threatening global pandemic prompts many Hoosiers and other Americans to stay out of department stores and enclosed malls. 

Still, people want to shop, and retailers have come up with ways for them to do that without having to walk among crowds. 

Pandemic shopping: How the coronavirus pandemic is changing how we shop and what we buy

Here are five things you need to know about how the pandemic is affecting the holiday shopping season: 

Consumer behavior has changed

An abrupt change in consumer behavior was obvious early on amid the pandemic-induced business closures and restrictions. 

Fearful of infection and with nowhere else to turn for out-of-stock products or wanting other items, consumers went online to buy.

The National Retail Federation, the largest retail trade association, noted in March that nine in 10 consumers changed the way they shopped as a result of COVID-19 business disruptions with over half ordering a product online that they would normally buy in store. 

e-Commerce sales have surged

Brands have actually benefitted from shoppers turning to retail websites and apps for goods. 

U.S. retail e-commerce sales for the third quarter were a seasonally adjusted $210 billion, a 36% increase over the same quarter last year though slightly down from the second quarter this year, the U.S. Commerce Department said. 

The shopping season will finish strong 

On Monday, the National Retail Federation unveiled its latest forecast for the holiday shopping season.

Spending is expected to remain strong, with sales increasing this month and in December by 3.6-5.2% over 2019 to $755-767 billion. 

Shoppers have options

If you’re uncomfortable walking the aisles of department stores and malls, no worries. You have options. 

Not only can you buy apparel, shoes, sporting goods and other items online, you also can place orders online and pick up your items in the store, limiting your time inside. 

And if you don’t want to step inside, many retailers are offering curbside service.

You also don’t have to worry about missing deals on popular items.

Retailers began holiday promotions and Black Friday deals earlier this year, and you can expect to see those deals throughout the holiday season. 

The pandemic influences what we buy

Not only has the pandemic changed how Americans shop, it also is influencing what we buy.

Retailers have observed that consumers are spending money on items that will improve their home, boost their mood or allow them to stay active during quarantine.

Fitness equipment, sporting goods, plants and items for the home office are in demand.

Contact IndyStar reporter Alexandria Burris at aburris@gannett.com or call 317-617-2690. Follow her on Twitter: @allyburris.

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