By Nathalie Voit

Many retailers are kicking off Black Friday deals early to encourage consumers to get a head start on their holiday shopping. Giants like Best Buy, Amazon, and Walmart are already rolling out major sales due to global supply chain and labor shortage concerns.

According to experts, Black Friday this year will be unlike any other. The pandemic-induced supply chain disruptions, coupled with ongoing concerns about COVID-19, will force retailers to re-evaluate their marketing strategies in favor of a few high-demand goods.

“Retailers might focus on specific items rather than trying to have a huge range of everything,” says Mathew Isaac, a marketing professor at Seattle University.

The pivot towards amassing a large inventory of a few popular goods means stores will carry less of everything else. Expect to see only the most in-demand items on shelves.

Experts also predicted a surge in online sales this year. The movement towards online shopping already gained ground during lockdown last year amid health and safety concerns.

“People are definitely going to be interested in Black Friday and excited about it, but the bulk of the activity is going to be online,” says Donna Hoffman, professor of marketing at the George Washington School of Business in Washington, D.C. “That’s my prediction.”

In addition, major retailers like Dick’s Sporting Goods and Target will stay closed this Thanksgiving. Stores like Kohl’s that are traditionally open on Thanksgiving Day have announced plans to close for the second year in a row in light of the pandemic and “evolving preferences in how and when customers want to shop during the holiday season.”

Moreover, expect a “marathon” approach to holiday shopping. The approach, developed last year, will see sales starting early and lasting for a long time, AP reported. Despite the spread-out savings opportunities, experts advised would-be shoppers not to wait in hopes of scoring better deals.

“My number one tip: Shop now,” Sheri Lambert, assistant professor of marketing at Temple University in Philadelphia, told AP News.

“Order that special gift for that special someone today. And even then, anticipate and expect the worst — but hope for the best.”

The high consumer demand for commodities means some items are sure to run out.

Despite the ongoing supply chain problems prompted by the pandemic, experts anticipate retailers to remain as pushy as ever. According to Isaac, retailers make a significant percentage of their yearly revenue during the upcoming 75-to-90-day season, “so they’re going to do everything they can to try to get you to shop, as long as they have the product.”

He advised shoppers to stay wary of persuasion tactics and focus on buying only the items they need. The pandemic will disrupt a lot of things around early holiday shopping, but “traditional shopping advice will still apply.”