‘Tis the Season – 3 Holiday Shopping Trends for 2020

At this point it is cliché, however true, holiday shopping this year will look a little different. While Black Friday has traditionally marked the official kickoff to the holiday shopping season, even that has been upended. When Amazon bumped their infamous Prime Day sales event to October, other major retailers responded with their own deals, creating an extended holiday shopping season. In fact, research shows 49 percent of consumers plan to start their holiday shopping by Halloween or even earlier. As a result, October is now being included in holiday forecasting for the first time ever. The ongoing pandemic, upcoming presidential election and uncertain economic conditions makes projecting sales difficult. However, survey after survey says that most consumers are looking to spend the same as they have in years past even in the current climate.

Safety will continue to be top of mind prompting retailers to remain focused on safe shopping options like online ordering, curbside pickup and contactless payment in addition to implementing in-store safety precautions. These considerations will play a big role in holiday marketing strategy. Those plans will look different by region based on variations in behavior due to the pandemic, making it more important than ever to leverage research and real-time data to influence the consumer journey. As retailers strive to deliver convenient solutions that meet consumers’ needs anytime, anyplace, anyway and anywhere, we anticipate three shopping trends to emerge this holiday season.

Ecommerce Will Remain on Top

Over the last few holiday seasons, ecommerce has continued to see large increases. The ease of shopping on your couch, getting the gift quickly and not having to deal with crowds are only some of the reasons why ecomm over the past few years has seen a 10 percent increase year-over-year.  In Q4 2020, ecommerce will be king with over 60 percent of consumers saying they will spend more online this year than they have in the past.

When polling our own staff, many discussed that although they may not be shopping for any particular items, they do plan to make many of their purchases online.

Shopping Trips Will Be Limited

Due to the pandemic, many consumers have limited their in-store trips since March. Previously, many consumers would go to multiple stores for their every day and large purchases alike in order to make sure they got the best deal. Shoppers are now less likely to browse, making store visits much more intentional. A survey by Ubimo found that when consumers venture from the safety of their homes, 93 percent now have a specific plan in mind of what stores they will visit and what they need to buy, as opposed to only about 63 percent who did so pre-pandemic. All this planning means fewer in-store visits. As a result, Retail Dive anticipates a 25 percent drop in in-store holiday traffic this year as shoppers plan ahead and consolidate trips in an effort to limit potential exposure to the coronavirus.

Consumers Will Shop Local

The one silver lining (if we can find one) of the current environment is that “shopping local” has new life. Many consumers are looking to support local businesses this holiday season, more than ever before. We have all had a hard year, and many shoppers are rallying around their favorite local businesses that have been hit hard in 2020 due to stay-at-home orders and decreased traffic. The National Retail Federation reports that 49 percent of consumers have made a purchase specifically in order to support their local businesses. That support is expected to become a long-term behavior. A poll conducted by Nextdoor found that 72 percent of members plan to continue frequenting local businesses more often even after the crisis ends.

This sentiment is echoed by Mindstreamers as well, many of whom note an intention to be more mindful of purchases this year and plan to shop locally or via small online shops to support small business in their communities.

Like they say, the only constant in life is change. This year has definitely had more than its fair share of uncertainties that have turned marketing calendars and media plans upside down. Brands have faced brutal marketing challenges forcing them to break out of the mold and adapt strategies on the fly, making speed and agility paramount. Radical changes in media consumption and new pressures impacting consumer behavior have necessitated marketing mix shifts and made (multiple) contingency plans status quo. But one thing remains the same, we’re here to Fast-Forward Business for our clients and agency partners. If you’re looking for a bold strategic advisor fueled by data and driven by insight to advance your brand, let’s connect to discuss the possibilities.