CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A potential rail strike could affect West Virginia retailors as stores begin to offer Black Friday deals for this holiday shopping season.
“The impact would be tremendous on access to consumer goods and availability in early December,” said Bridget Lambert, president of the West Virginia Retailers Association.
Thousands of railroad workers across the nation are prepared for a work stoppage by Dec. 5 if an agreement cannot be reached.
“We’re monitoring that situation,” Lambert said. “We encourage consumers to do their holiday shopping now and take advantage of the great deals that are available this holiday season.”
The rail workers say they want better pay and more sick leave. A possible strike could cost the American economy $2 billion per day.
Lambert said the bulk of consumer goods are transported to warehouse facilities via rail and then transferred to stores by road transportation.
More shoppers are buying gifts online this year, but many still plan to head out to stores, Lambert said.
“It’s projected that about 69 percent of shoppers plan to shop on Black Friday followed by about 38 percent on Cyber Monday,” she said.
The popular item continues to be gift cards.
“They’re most likely to buy those for restaurants followed by department stores,” Lambert said.
A new trend includes gift cards toward food delivery services.
“About 10 percent of consumers have indicated they would like to have a food service delivery card like from DoorDash or Uber Eats,” she said.
Inflation is also on the minds of consumers. Lambert said many shoppers started buying gifts this fall.
“I believe that’s why they started shopping earlier in October and they’re spreading their household budget out,” she said.
The National Retail Federation has indicated sales were up 7.5 percent year-over-year for the first 10 months of this year.