Coronavirus has changed consumer behaviour, but time will tell if it’s a permanent shift

The pandemic has reversed the trend of buying services online and now we are buying goods for our homes instead, writes Hamish McRae. But could this Black Friday turn out to be a bit of a last hurrah?

Tuesday 24 November 2020 16:40 GMT
Comments
Goods account for only half of consumption in most developed countries. The rest is on services
Goods account for only half of consumption in most developed countries. The rest is on services (PA)

Are consumers different this year? It is Thanksgiving on Thursday for Americans and then Black Friday for just about the whole world. Thanksgiving looks more muted than usual, at least that’s what the US authorities hope given the health emergency. But Black Friday may be bigger than ever. Why?

Black Friday and its sibling Cyber Monday are about buying goods. But goods account for only about half of consumption in most developed countries. The rest is on services. For the past half century at least there has been a gradual shift from buying goods to buying services. This is in part a reaction to how goods have become cheaper relative to services. Think of the way a TV set has become cheaper in real terms but a coffee in a Starbucks or a Costa has become more expensive. It is also a reaction to a wider social change, for people with relatively small living space don’t want to fill it with more stuff, but do want to go out and have a good time.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in