Rutgers Business School–Newark and New Brunswick scholars are available to comment on retail consumer behavior this holiday season.

  • Ashwani Monga, a professor of marketing and a consumer psychologist who studies consumers' judgment and decision biases, can discuss consumer habits and the role of shopping in consumers’ lives during this time.

“Recent events have created new habits for consumers,” said Monga. “Those who went to malls every weekend and were uplifted by the energy of people around them are now used to staying at home. Those who refrained from online shopping before the pandemic have become more comfortable with it and that will continue through the holidays. Newly developed habits may not be just about how one purchases goods but about the role of shopping in consumers’ lives. Weekend visits to malls are being replaced by other pursuits such as outdoor trips with the family. Shopping may not even be seen as a pleasurable activity during these difficult times. Many consumers are experiencing economic hardships and even those with money could feel guilty splurging on holiday products while others are struggling. More people are holding on to their money as is reflected in higher savings rates. Retailers are trying hard to nudge consumers so that they stop saving and start visiting malls, but consumers will take time to unlearn their newly formed habits, if they ever do.”

Monga is provost and executive vice chancellor of Rutgers University–Newark. He studies consumers' judgments and decisions, particularly those related to time and money, and is the co-author of Becoming a Consumer Psychologist.  

  • Kristina Durante, a professor of marketing and a social psychologist who studies the biology of decision-making, can discuss how and where consumers will be shopping during the holidays and what the uncertainty means for local businesses.

“The pandemic is a triple threat,” said Durante. “It is recession, contagion and isolation all wrapped into one. Because there is so much uncertainty, the holiday season will look a lot different than what we are used to. Many people will avoid in-person shopping, preferring to buy online. That could mean that retail giants like Amazon and Walmart win out over local merchants, particularly because consumers like seamless buying without a lot of steps—hello, Amazon one-click. But research shows that uncertainty creates favoritism for what is local or nearby. When consumers feel threatened, we have a deeper desire to help friends, family and community over strangers. So, local businesses have a great opportunity at hand this season, but they need to get the word out that they, too, can deliver goods fast and low cost.”

Durante is the marketing department vice chair at the Rutgers School of Business-Newark and New Brunswick. Her area of expertise includes women’s consumer choice and luxury spending, family consumer decisions, hormones and behavior, and the psychological consequences of ambiguity.