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A Retail Tale: U-M Experts Discuss Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Inflation
Michigan Ag Connection - 11/23/2022

University of Michigan faculty have been discussing with media Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, and are offering insights about where the retail industry is heading in the critical fourth quarter with inflation concerns and any lingering supply chain issues.

Joanne Hsu is the director of the Surveys of Consumers and a research associate professor at the Institute for Social Research. Her research is primarily in the fields of household finance, labor economics and survey methods, with a current focus on financial sophistication and cognition and consumer experiences with debt.

"Consumer shopping behaviors are to be influenced by a number of factors, and supply chain issues will matter primarily via their effects on inflation. Inflation has been really high for the last year and a half or so," she said. "Consumers have been telling us on the survey how much inflation is hurting their pocketbooks. They're also telling us that they're scaling back their spending, which connects to how much they're willing to spend shopping for the holidays."

Scott Rick is an associate professor of marketing at the Ross School of Business. His research speaks to how consumers perceive and experience inflation, how they choose what gifts to buy, and how they experience in-store and online shopping environments. He is particularly interested in understanding the behavior of extreme "tightwads" and "spendthrifts."

"Inflation has sparked some unwanted but interesting discussions about what purchases should be considered necessities versus indulgences," he said. "Many people, like my wife and I, can look at the same purchase in dramatically different ways."

Joline Uichanco is an associate professor of technology and operations at the Ross School of Business. Her research includes studying how e-commerce and omnichannel retailers can use algorithms to make better decisions on issues such as inventory, pricing and fulfillment.

"E-commerce retailers are facing a double whammy this holiday season," she said. "With inflation, goods have become more expensive, which is expected to dampen customer spending. And with gas prices high, it means that retailers have to incur more cost to get that package delivered to your doorstep."


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