Moms will decide how much holiday cheer retailers enjoy this year

Discussion
Photo: @beachbumledford via Twenty20
Nov 10, 2020
George Anderson

Retail sales expectations for Christmas are ranging between hopeful and optimistic as the calendar moves closer to Thanksgiving. After months of trying to build back from the damage done by the novel coronavirus pandemic, retailers may get some relief from pent-up consumer demand and desire to find some joy in new toys (literal or otherwise). In the end, however, it may come down to how women, particularly moms with kids, are feeling about their financial situations when the books are closed in 2020.

A recent article on the Forbes website points to the spending power of adult women, particularly the 73.5 million that are mothers, as the key to retail success during the holidays. Just how much spending moms do on their kids will be determinative in the end. A Zulily survey of 2,000 American moms cites the desire by many to make this season’s celebrations a bright spot in a year that has disrupted so much of American life. Seventy percent “say they feel pressure to make this holiday season great for their child due to the pandemic.”

Eighty-four percent of those surveyed say their celebrations will reflect “a new normal” brought about by the pandemic and that they are hoping to create new family traditions, including activities such as making their own holiday decorations (51 percent) and writing thank you cards to essential workers on the frontline fight against COVID-19.

One of the new realities of American life in the pandemic that could be a significant drag on holiday sales is the number of women who are unemployed, according to a Washington Post report.

More than two million women have moved out of the workforce this year after choosing or being forced to stay at home due to pandemic-related circumstances. Many must care for children in their households who have been attending school virtually as the number of cases of COVID-19 spikes across the U.S.

The New York Times reports that at least 130,533 new cases and 745 COVID-19 deaths were reported in the U.S. yesterday. The average number of cases per day currently stands at 116,448, up 64 percent from two weeks ago.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How significant a factor will female unemployment be in retail sales performance for the 2020 holiday season? Have spiking COVID-19 cases across most of the U.S. put the expected strong holiday season in jeopardy?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Of the 73.5 million moms, the 2 million who lost their jobs -- sadly -- are likely to be those who were most economically vulnerable before the pandemic."
"Unemployment is a big problem. Many woman have lost jobs while others have had no choice but to stay home to care for their children."
"Many of us will spend our way through 2020 mom guilt. Overall, retail companies have reason for hope and cheer this holiday season."

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11 Comments on "Moms will decide how much holiday cheer retailers enjoy this year"


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Mark Ryski
BrainTrust

The pandemic is the key factor to holiday season sales – female unemployment is certainly part of this bigger story. There’s no doubt that unemployment and consumer confidence in general will have a tremendous impact on this year’s holiday season. Spiking COVID-19 cases, according to experts, are going to get even worse and this can’t help but weigh on retail sales activity. Notwithstanding yesterday’s announcement of an impending vaccine, we all have a long way to go before “normal” is back – it won’t be this holiday season.

Richard Hernandez
BrainTrust

I think this year’s holiday season will not be the same as always. Too many mitigating things to worry about- jobs, not being able to have the normal large get togethers, having to watch piggy bank more closely, etc. I think moms will play a big role in deciding how much to spend on familial celebrations. It is really hard to predict as the unknown still rules in our everyday life.

Liz Crawford
BrainTrust

Of the 73.5 million moms, the 2 million who lost their jobs — sadly — are likely to be those who were most economically vulnerable before the pandemic. So how will female unemployment affect seasonal retail performance? The struggle of the unemployed moms may not be visible in most aggregate numbers. Only by parsing the data will we see the impact on those hurting.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust
Female unemployment is just one of SO MANY factors that will affect the holiday season. According to government statistics, there are over 11 million people unemployed in the U.S. But, that only counts those looking for jobs. As George has described these women, many have “left the work force” and are not even counted in the official numbers. And then there is the overall economic impact as federal stimulus runs out and more people (high six figures) become unemployed every week. On top of it all, the country may be facing the worst two months of the pandemic and cases and deaths could surpass the rates of the spring and summer. This weekend my son and daughter discussed how our family would navigate Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas. There was never a mention of presents. They can be taken care of online if need be. The priority for holiday cheer is now determining what is the best way for all of us to be together. Without that, the holidays become quite meaningless.
Bob Phibbs
BrainTrust

I was interested until I read, “writing thank you cards to essential workers on the frontline fight against COVID-19.” Really? Who would do this? A big reach in my estimation. Moms have always determined how strong the holidays are. Those who feel hopeful through vaccine news and opening up will drive consumption. If we continue to go out of control with infections, that will make everyone fearful.

Joan Treistman
BrainTrust

Credit card debt has fallen during the pandemic. Consumers have carefully reduced their expenses.
Optimism will play a big factor in holiday sales and may be that motivating force for shopping. Consumers could be willing to bet a bit on the future (using credit cards) to create a holiday atmosphere filled with renewed joy for their families and retailers.
That will be especially possible if consumers see increases in employment and greater COVID-19 containment. A lot will have to happen in a short period of time. But the possibility of a vaccine from Pfizer and the Lilly remedies could help create the optimism needed.

Lisa Goller
BrainTrust

2020’s K-shaped economy will significantly impact retail sales by pushing mid-market shoppers between value and premium tiers.

On the downward slope of the K, female unemployment has hurt many families amid business closures and the current lack of a federal stimulus package. Moms facing these circumstances will prioritize essentials like groceries over Baby Yoda toys. They may also visit fewer stores to mitigate health risks.

On the upward slope of the K, the comparatively affluent families could go on a wild shopping spree. These moms may spend their unused travel funds to compensate for a dud of a year in which children grieved the loss of connection and normality. They will spend more on e-commerce to avoid physical stores.

Many of us will spend our way through 2020 mom guilt. Overall, retail companies have reason for hope and cheer this holiday season.

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust
Unemployment is a big problem. Many woman have lost jobs while others have had no choice but to stay home to care for their children. As a mother and a grandmother I am still navigating how my family can gather and celebrate safely together but we will figure it out. My daughter has a lot on her plate this year with a new baby and homeschooling her young son while trying to make things as normal as possible. I think women have always lead the way on how holidays are celebrated. Granted, this year is different and moms have more on their plates than ever before, often with less money, but we are resilient. In my own “focus group” of about seven young moms, I have seen them rise to the occasion, celebrating milestones in new socially-distanced ways, changing habits and succeeding. They are cooking and baking, swapping meals, sewing again, thrifting, crafting with their kids alone and together, and they are purchasing gifts early online so the holidays will still be a magical one.… Read more »
Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust
It is one thing for consumers to say they feel pressure to make this holiday season great, but quite another for them to take action on this desire. While it does paint a hopeful picture for the holiday shopping season to see this intent, what we’ve seen across the board during 2020 is that rarely do people really behave in the way they describe intending to act when polled. The greatest issue for a positive holiday shopping season will be a function of how severe this new wave of coronavirus becomes and if any parts of the country end up going back to lockdowns or strengthening their restrictions as a result. After that, the unemployment rate as well as how financially secure families feel regardless of their employment situation will be the next most important factor. Many families may be in a position to desire a better season of gift-giving but may hold back due to financial strain or uncertainty. Unfortunately, despite recent news of positive developments towards a vaccine, we don’t have very many… Read more »
Heidi Sax
BrainTrust

Female unemployment is a factor. Even employed moms have already spent more on other things (toys to keep kids stuck at home occupied, fancy outdoor gear, private childcare). Moms are savvy and will find a way to bring joy into their homes while spending less and without the extended family. E-commerce is predicted to have fulfillment issues that may put the holiday season in jeopardy for retailers, given that spiking COVID-19 cases will likely hold back in-store sales.

Steve Montgomery
BrainTrust

In most cases, pre COVID moms/wives determined the holiday budgets and the will be true again this year. The biggest difference is the availability of income to spend. For those fortunate enough where both parents are sill working the might be a slight downtrend because what happens if one or both lose their jobs.

Where previous both were working and one lost their jobs I expect you can see some contraction in holiday spending but those with children will likely do all they can to provide a bight spot for their kids.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Of the 73.5 million moms, the 2 million who lost their jobs -- sadly -- are likely to be those who were most economically vulnerable before the pandemic."
"Unemployment is a big problem. Many woman have lost jobs while others have had no choice but to stay home to care for their children."
"Many of us will spend our way through 2020 mom guilt. Overall, retail companies have reason for hope and cheer this holiday season."

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