LONDON, Nov. 28 (Xinhua) — As COVID-19 continues to ravage countries across Europe, concerns over infections and economic insecurity have largely dampened consumers’ enthusiasm for Black Friday, dashing hopes of some European countries to revitalize the pandemic-laden economy with the traditional shopping spree.
With roads flooded by crowds and stores crammed with consumers, Black Friday is traditionally one of the most-anticipated shopping days of the year in most European countries, typically drawing millions of consumers out to brick-and-mortar shops.
But this year, amid the raging pandemic, the usually dazzling Black Friday seemed rather bleak across Europe.
In Spain, according to a recent study carried out by EAE Business School, millions of Spaniards have changed their shopping habits, preferring to either buy online or buy nothing at all, and 49 percent of people now visit shopping centers less than before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The economic downturn and uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic mean 65 percent of people feel a high level of economic insecurity and are less willing to spend money, the study found.
With an increasing long list of countries reaching the grim milestone of more than 1 million cases, a second wave of the pandemic is gaining momentum in Europe, forcing more countries to re-impose restrictions and lockdowns, and making the already cooling consumer market worse.
Britain is a case in point. According to a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), after the announcement of a second lockdown in the country, people’s interest in Black Friday has tumbled from 51 percent to 38 percent, which means, as expected by PwC, spending during this year’s Black Friday sales will decline by 20 percent compared with last year.
Regarding Black Friday as a chance to offset the losses caused by the pandemic, many shop owners have been asking to ease lockdowns during the Nov. 27-29 Black Friday weekend.
To strike a balance between containing COVID-19 and stimulating the economy, the French government postponed Black Friday in the country by a week.
This agreement has been reached with a view to allowing shops to reopen in the future under conditions of maximum health security, said French Minister of Economy and Finance Bruno Le Maire in a statement.
Some store owners have opted for online sales in an attempt to minimize the impact of the pandemic.
It is clear that face-to-face shopping channels, such as brick-and-mortar stores, shopping centers or department stores will see fewer profits this year than companies that offer their products online, said Pablo Contreras, marketing consultant and professor at EAE Business School.