The pandemic has affected just about every industry imaginable but will holiday shopping be hit the same?By John Shumway

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The pandemic has had a dramatic impact on how we spend our money.

Have you been Halloween shopping?

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Katherine Cullen with the National Retail Federation says COVID-19 is definitely impacting buying.

“We are seeing a little bit of a decrease in terms of the percent of people who plan to celebrate this year, 58% of adults across the country planned to celebrate Halloween, compared to 68% last year,” she explained. “But those who are celebrating are planning to spend a little bit more, they’re planning to spend around $92 on average for the holiday, compared to about $86 last year.”

As for what we are spending those Halloween dollars on: “Candy is always a top purchase for Halloween. Regardless of whether you’re dressing up or not it’s hard to say no. But this year we saw more people planning to buy decorations and spending a little bit more on decorations, with all the restrictions going on in some communities and not being able to participate in trick or treat or how haunted houses decorations are a way people can safely show their Halloween spirit. We also saw an uptick in Halloween cards, more people planning to buy those and spending a little more, on average, it, to be honest, that has not been a big growth category in the past for Halloween.”

One other area that is being dramatically impacted by the virus is the young adult and adult partying at local bars.

Due to restrictions on those establishments that kind of partying won’t be possible this year.

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Cullen says the candy industry has done so well throughout the pandemic after holiday sales may be muted compared to other years.

As for holiday shopping Amazon, Walmart, and Target got a jump on things last week and that is kind of a foretelling of what’s to come.

Cullen says buyers are adjusting.

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“What we’re seeing is consumers are really focusing on gifts this year they’re really focusing on holiday decorations,” she said. “They might be a little cautious about other areas of spend you know they might not be traveling this year, but they might take some of those dollars and you put them towards gifts instead.”

And retailers are reacting.

“We are also seeing retailers, encourage consumers to shop early, we may not be able to rely on some of those traditional sale events like Black Friday and lining up outside the stores on Thanksgiving Day,” she said. “So instead retailers are spacing out those events, making sure consumers can find deals throughout the season.”

Understanding for health reasons shoppers don’t want to get into a holiday crush of people shopping Cullen says to watch for deals now.

“They’re seeing holiday inventory in stores right now they’re seeing sales going on and it just lets them shop in a safer, more convenient environment, given everything going on this year.”

But more and more shoppers are passing on brick and mortar shopping.

“We are certainly seeing more interest in shopping online this year,” she said.

As for deep discounts and deals: “What we’ve seen for retailers, is they’re aware of consumers’ situation are aware of wanting to spread out their holiday budgets and so they’re trying to offer different sales throughout the season. We will see different items discounted on different days and kind of keeping people engaged throughout.”

Cullen advises to keep an eye out now for that special item on your list because the deals will not be necessarily framed in the usual places like Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

They could instead happen at any time.

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The big unknown, and concern, is what impact this is going to have on the survival of brick and mortar stores.