MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Summer’s last hurrah will look different this year inside your favorite stores. With prices slashed, retail experts believe Labor Day sales may be a sign of things to come.

WCCO found retailers using the pandemic as a way to plan for a permanent change.

The supply list is much shorter this year for Emma.  She’s a third-grader who again will be learning at home.

“Yeah, really different,” her mom Kamara told us.

“Basically just looking for something to create a study space for distance learning,” she said.

Kamara admits her spending habits have changed since March.  Still, not seeing a time when things return to the way they were.

Kim Sovell teaches marketing at the University of St. Thomas.

“Traffic to brick and mortar stores is still down significantly by 43%,” Sovell said.

She says open-air shopping centers are doing better than traditional malls.  While sales climb at Target and Best Buy, Sovell says department store staples like Macy’s and Nordstrom face an uncertain future.

“Any stores that were in trouble before the shutdown are in worse trouble now,” Sovell said.

Sovell points to the steepest discounts on clothing both in-store and online where we found prices 80% off.

“We’re staying home a lot more and we don’t have places to go,” Sovell said.

Home items like appliances, electronics and paint have shown the most promise.

“What’s really interesting to me is seeing some of the changes with marketing,” she added.

Sovell’s noticed a shift to a message of safety.  It’s not about what you’re buying but how you’re doing it these days.

We caught Ann Chase on her first shopping trip beyond the grocery store where she told us she’s worried about what choices she may soon have as foreclosures and empty storefronts stack up.

“I hope it’s not a change it’s kind of heartbreaking when you hear about Burnsville Mall and all these other ones,” Chase said.

Sovell told WCCO the holiday shopping season is expected to start earlier and last even longer this year.

She says as consumers long for normalcy, retailers believe they will embrace traditions this holiday like never before

Liz Collin

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