Four retailer experts offer their take on Black Friday

Four retailer experts offer their take on Black Friday
Written by:
Jayson Derrick
November 28, 2020
  • This year's Black Friday has a much different feel to it due to COVID-19.
  • But some analysts and experts are positive on certain sectors.
  • Retailers with exposure to 'at-home' trends could outperform.

The annual Black Friday shopping event may never be the same again due to COVID-19 related disruptions and restrictions. The yearly tradition of braving overcrowded stores to score a great price on goods was replaced with extended online sales.

Here is a summary of how four retail experts reacted to this year’s unusual Black Friday event, courtesy of CNBC.

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Falling foot traffic

Telsey Advisory Group CEO Dana Telsey told CNBC retailers are unlikely to see a lot of foot traffic. People are opting to shop online and will only enter a store to pick up goods that were purchased online or to pick up a specific item.

Gone are the days of shopping with friends and extended family. Also gone is the sense of urgency retailers liked to create to convince shoppers to act quickly or they will miss out on a deal.

“Even [in] the past few weeks leading up to this, you had Amazon Prime Day,” she said. “It just isn’t going to be the same type of holiday season because you don’t have the ability to interact with other people. You’re going solo. That’s what holiday 2020’s about.”

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Sweaters a winner

As odd as it may sound, sweaters and other apparel items will emerge a winner of this year’s Black Friday event, according to J. Rogers Kniffen CEO Jan Kniffen. He told CNBC consumers can’t spend their money on experiences and restaurants. People aren’t throwing parties for friends and family so alcohol sales will be down.

“None of that’s going to happen,” he said. “It’s all going into sweaters.”

While not specifically mentioning names, one may assume from his comments that a retailer like Gap Inc (NYSE: GPS) will perform well this year.

High-end retail

Higher-end retail names will perform better this year compared to prior years, Boston Consulting Group Global Head Of Luxury Sarah Willersdorf also told CNBC. This is because this year’s Black Friday event will span much longer than prior years and focus on online sales.

As a whole, retail sales across Black Friday could be up 5% year-over-year at $755 billion or more, she said.

At-home ‘revolution’

Finally, retailers with direct exposure to the ongoing at-home “revolution” will emerge on top, Cowen Senior Retail Analyst Oliver Chen said. 

Companies that directly address people working from home or studying at home include specialty fashion retailer American Eagle Outfitters Inc (NYSE: AE) and Coach’s parent company Tapestry Inc (NYSE: TPR), according to the analyst. This is on top of the usual names associated with at-home comfort and convenience, including Walmart Inc (NYSE: WMT) and Target Corp (NYSE: TGT).