News Volume 71, Issue 2

2021 Black Friday Shopping & the Supply Shortage

Written By: Katharine Chi

Graphic By: Abby Halverstadt

After eating a hefty Thanksgiving dinner, it was time to get ready for a major shopping spree. The local Target, Walmart, Best Buy, Macy’s and every other major chain store was surrounded by outrageous lines of merchandise-hungry customers. On the extreme end, people would camp out in lines hours before. Las Lomas senior Tiffany Tsan said, “I remember waking up early in the morning and feeling so excited to get to the shops first. I would look forward to all the shops I had in mind and the shops I would visit with my family. This year though, I plan to online shop and check out stores that I wouldn’t usually shop at.” Nowadays, the excitement around Black Friday shopping has diminished, and the lines containing hoards of people are not as occurrent. Retailers see Black Friday as the start of the holiday shopping season—when profit is at its peak. 

Some of the top products shopped for are TVs, household appliances, toys, tablets, laptops, gaming consoles, video games and clothing. 100 million customers shopped online during Black Friday 2020, setting a record-breaking year for the online form of shopping. Black Friday online shopping increased by 8% compared to the previous year (2019). In comparison, there were 58.7 million in-person shoppers on Black Friday—dropping by 37% compared to last year. From 2017 to 2020, online shopping profit has increased by 78.86%. With an increasing trend in online shopping and a decreasing trend in in-person shopping, there will likely be a continued pattern into Black Friday 2021.

Before the pandemic, the global economy experienced issues in various ways: tariffs, supplies, workers, consumer demand and transportation of goods. This year, there are shortages of containers, shipping rates have increased and international ports developed congestion and created a ripple effect on the distribution of merchandise. There have been challenges receiving key manufacturing components, and exporters face difficulty booking shipping vessels and getting containers. Shipping containers are essential for international trade. They are used to transport goods and dry bulk from one hub to another. Prices for containers have increased due to displacement and post-quarantine jump in demand. The supply and demand chain has broken from issues occurring in each part of the system. With the holidays approaching, there is an imminent increase in demand. This massive rise in demand may lead to further damage to the already troublesome chain. There will likely be high shipping costs and delivery delays during the 2021 holiday season. 

This year in Walnut Creek, there will be people shopping around downtown and visiting the local Target. Las Lomas senior Carter Alumno said, “Every Black Friday my family and I would go to Target at midnight and buy a bunch of random stuff, then later we would go to the mall or downtown and buy clothes. This year I plan to shop both online and in person.” Although there will still be in-person shoppers, a greater proportion will be purchasing items from their Black Friday lists online. Las Lomas junior Madeline Dell said, “Since many websites do a Black Friday or Cyber Monday weekend, I’ll definitely be looking for stuff to buy, especially clothes from stores I wouldn’t usually spend money on. I also just like to window shop online and see if I can find any cool things on sale.” Amazon vans, United States Postal Service trucks, UPS trucks, and other transportation vehicles will be prevalent more than ever with the growth in online activity. Though the method of shopping has changed, the mentality is the same: get the best deal possible to save money. 

There was an increase in online shopping activity during quarantine, and post-quarantine the increase has continued. It is expected to amplify during Black Friday. With people adjusting to an online world during a time of lockdown, the habits and methods people have adopted during the pandemic have proceeded into post-quarantine. The online shopping method has grown in popularity due to the convenience it offers. This year, people can see a great shift in the ways the people shop and are noticing the issues created. The supply chain crisis will affect millions of people and will be noticed during the holiday season.