Experts ready to offer insights on Black Friday during COVID-19

Meredith Rhoads Thomas, assistant professor, Department of Marketing
Meredith Rhoads Thomas, assistant professor, Department of Marketing

This year, Black Friday figures to be like none that have come before it. A national pandemic, widespread economic distress and a tumultuous election season have combined to leave American retailers and consumers facing a series of unknowns never encountered before.

As national unemployment numbers have risen and social distancing practices define life from public spaces to private homes, brick-and-mortar and online retailers alike are working to entice potential consumers. FSU experts are ready to help shed perspective on what those efforts might look like, their potential effects and the factors shaping consumer sales.

Mike Brady, The Bob Sasser Professor and Department Chair, College of Business, Department of Marketing 
(850) 644-7853;

Brady’s primary research interest is customer service and frontline service. 

“This should be the most customer-friendly Black Friday in recent memory. Rather than waking up very early to fight crowds and position themselves to get a limited assortment of discounted goods, customers can shop from home over much longer periods of time and for a larger assortment. I think we’re learning that some of the adjustments we’ve made for COVID-19 should be extended beyond the pandemic, and I’m hoping this is one of them.”

Martin Mende, Jim Moran Professor of Business Administration, College of Business, Department of Marketing

Mende’s areas of research include consumer attachments to service firms and service employees, conspicuous consumption and complaint management and service recovery.

“Overall, I expect Black Friday 2020 to look and feel different than past years, in keeping with this unusual year. As a researcher focused on Services Marketing, I believe that there are opportunities for retailers and e-tailers related to Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the extended Holiday Sale Season. While there are certainly challenges (e.g., consumers’ economic and health-related concerns), there are also reasons for businesses to be optimistic about being able to deliver value to (specific segments of) consumers, in light of consumers’ emerging needs and preferences that have been shaped by the pandemic (e.g., spending on home life, comfort, and entertainment).”  

Maura Scott, Persis E. Rockwood Professor of Marketing, College of Business, Department of Marketing: (850) 644-6554;

Scott is an expert in consumer behavior, over-consumption behavior, goal setting, self-regulation and transformative consumer research.

“There are a number of different factors at work this holiday season, which can push and pull holiday spending in different directions. On one hand, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing has resulted in decreased in-person contact with loved ones. Some consumers may feel the need to purchase gifts to express the love toward family and friends, which they cannot currently express through in-person interactions. In addition, research on mortality salience (e.g., increased awareness that people are dying from COVID-19) has been shown to trigger an increase in indulgent consumption. On the other hand, despite the election of President-elect Biden, there remains a great deal of uncertainty in the U.S. and the world due to social and political factors. To the extent that people feel uncertain about the future, they may have a desire to hunker down and save their money. Thus, there are opposing forces at work that may influence household spending, and these represent just a few of those.”

Meredith Rhoads Thomas, assistant professor, College of Business, Department of Marketing
(850) 644-3106;

Thomas’ research focuses on consumer behavior, specifically related to consumption communities, social issues related to the consumption of space and place, and community resources and consumer well-being.

“Black Friday shopping has become an important social ritual for many consumers, especially among family members and friends extending their Thanksgiving festivities into the next day. Aside from the economic implications of decreased store traffic due to COVID-19 prevention measures, retailers have an opportunity this holiday season to think creatively about how to help consumers find ways to collectively enjoy the experience of online or socially distanced holiday shopping. Examples of this could be providing tech-mediated opportunities to gamify the experience or use video conferencing on shopping platforms to allow for social engagement while shopping.”