KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- Consumer habits are changing because of the pandemic and stores are trying to capitalize on that change to help their bottom lines.

Our Call for Action team spoke with Sree Menon, the COO of Tophatter, an online shopping app, to get her take on consumer trends for this year’s Black Friday.

“The biggest difference that you’re seeing this year over last year is just the extension of the holiday period. It’s being pulled forward,” said Menon.

Typically, stores would see a big spike around Black Friday as consumers begin holiday shopping. This year think of flattening that spike and spread it out over a few weeks. The dollars are being spread out too, from brick-and-mortar stores to digital.

The social aspect of Black Friday is also expected to look different. No more going out with friends and family, hunting for deals and then going out for drinks or and a meal.

“I think that is going to be a challenge and I think online companies or digital apps like ours are trying to create that social aspect. One social element could be sharing a deal that you found online or doing some group buying,” said Menon.

To also spur social sharing, Sree mentioned app developers putting games or other incentive challenges into the application that could give shoppers a certain percentage off their purchase. Those savings are more important than ever as consumer’s budgets continue to tighten.

“We know this because we survey our consumers and 30% of respondents say they’re buying fewer gifts because they just have less money to spend” said Menon.

Consumers aren’t the only ones with fewer dollars. With some exceptions, business owners are continuing to struggle.

“Trends of stores closing and not being as profitable has been going on for a long time, and largely because the retail expansion outpaced the foot traffic. So, we know that was a problem and the pandemic just exacerbated it,” says Menon.

Despite the downward trend in people’s budget, Tophatter is simply driving home value, so shoppers can still be in the giving spirit of the holidays.

Even though less foot traffic is expected this Black Friday, stores like Walmart and Best Buy are already announcing Black Friday Bargains. Call for Action reporter Bill Hurrelbrink has listed a few of his favorites (so far):

Walmart.com deal (begins Wednesday, November 25th) – Nintendo Switch with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for $299

Walmart online/in-store deal for Friday, November 27th – Roku SE Streaming Media Player for $17

Best Buy deal, Samsung 65” Class 7 Series LED 4K UHD Smart Tizen TV for $477.99 – deal is live NOW!

If you want to shop local for Black Friday, our friends at iFamilyKC have a great resource here.

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