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U.S. buyers are reaching for final minute Christmas presents and selecting up on-line orders in-store

© Reuters. Shoppers wait in line outside a Bath and Body Works retail store in Brooklyn, New York as the global coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak continues

By Melissa Fares

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Many U.S. vacation shoppers who didn't want to spend time in stores during the recent spike in COVID-19 cases and were nervous about packages not arriving before Christmas were on a mission Saturday: Grab Load- Pick up minute gifts quickly or in-store purchases online.

The "Super Saturday" before Christmas is traditionally the busiest day of the year for holiday shopping, and this year e-commerce has been particularly busy. However, on news of high-priority vaccine shipments, many Americans fear that gift delivery could be delayed this week.

"If you haven't dared and haven't gotten your gifts, you almost have to," said Marshal Cohen, chief retail advisor for NPD Group. "Online orders are not delivered on time and nobody wants to risk showing up empty-handed."

US retailers are expected to generate record sales. Over 150 million American shoppers are said to be buying Christmas gifts online or in stores on Saturday. This corresponds to an increase of more than 2 million over the previous year, the National Retail Federation announced on Thursday.

Many last-minute shoppers on Saturday took in-store orders they had placed online, said four retail experts, who wrote checks in a total of six states.

As states enforce stricter mandates and consumers by and large continue to avoid strolling the local mall, those who hadn't yet ordered for pickup were mercenaries in their approach and would "hop on and off and get the one or the other." grab two gifts that they already knew they wanted, "Deloitte & Touche LP partner Bill Park said of shoppers at the King of Prussia mall outside Philadelphia.

Craig Johnson, president of retail consultancy Customer Growth Partners, said the same applies to customers in malls in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. "This is Mission Shopping, this is it."

Johnson predicts people will be spending $ 36.1 billion on this super Saturday, up from $ 34.4 billion last year. This includes in-store and online purchases, but excludes sales at gas stations, restaurants, and car dealerships.

RECORD SALE

The roadside business contributed significantly to the traffic at major retail chains, including Walmart (NYSE 🙂 and target (NYSE 🙂 on Saturday, according to retail analysts in Miami, New York City and Chicago.

Many retailers achieved record digital sales during the pandemic, overwhelming traditional shipping companies like FedEx (NYSE :), UPS, and USPS. Vaccine deliveries are a priority now, and this week, delivery workers in the northeast had to grapple with a major blizzard.

Department stores like Nordstrom (NYSE 🙂 and J.C. Penney, in turn, offer benefits such as free gift wrapping and additional discounts for those who “click and pick up” online orders.

"It wasn't going to arrive in time," said Elyse R., 31, on the side of the road in Nordstrom's flagship store in Manhattan. She was referring to the facial massage tool she ordered online for her sister to pick up at the roadside. "I went to another store and now I'm going home."

While Elyse waited for her order, she played a contactless quiz game at a stand next to the counter that won her a $ 25 gift card. Such tactics have helped get people to shop locally or return later, a business partner said.

"The goal is to get you to the store when you pick it up," said Cohen of NPD.

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