Adjust expectations for Black Friday shopping, retail experts say

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Retail experts recommend Americans adjust their expectations heading into the holiday shopping season.

The country is dealing with supply chain issues, product shortages and anticipated shipping delays at a time when consumer spending is on the rise.

"It’s not a great combination to have huge demand and then low supply — and that’s what we’ve been seeing," said Kim Sovell, a retail business expert at the University of St. Thomas.

Sovell said shoppers might notice fewer doorbuster deals on Black Friday, along with shallower discounts overall throughout the holiday shopping season.

"When demand is high, and supply is as difficult as it is right now, that’s when retailers don’t need to lower their prices," Sovell explained.

She said supply chain issues are driving people to shop earlier than usual and to purchase "experience" gifts instead of products.

"There’s a very big demand on experience gifts. Nearly six out of ten consumers, about 57%, plan on purchasing an experience," Sovell said. "Things like personal stylists passes so people can learn guitar, they can learn cooking or do wine tasting."

"We’re seeing even Airbnb experiences being purchased," Sovell continued. "We’re seeing experience boxes for kids that maybe want to learn to be a magician or do science exhibitions, things like that."

Sovell said people are also doing more shopping in person due to shipping concerns.

"Shop local because then you don’t have to worry so much about shipping and about the supply chain because you can buy products in-store, so I think that’s another way around it," Sovell said.

This year, there are 29 days between Black Friday and Christmas, so Sovell recommends starting now.

"I think it’s going to take a lot more thought and maybe just stepping out of the ordinary of what you typically purchase," Sovell said. "I think there is an opportunity for smaller independent retailers. Whether they’re service retailers supplying an experience or a brick-and-mortar giving us product I think it’s a real opportunity for them to connect with consumers."

She noted that there may be even steeper discounts after Christmas this year.

"If the supply chain is open enough that we have a lot of product left on the shelves that consumers aren’t buying, then the sales are going to be even greater post-holiday than they typically are," Sovell said.