This comes as no surprise that 2020 is going to be a record-breaking year in terms of online sales. For the past couple of years, we have witnessed holiday season spending crossing $100 billion. People just love to spend money on the festive season.
But this year, unfortunately, things haven’t been as smooth as they were before. The COVID-19 pandemic has shut down the gifts and occasion sector as people have virtually nothing to celebrate.
However, the holiday season is three months away. And as some countries are reporting a decline in COVID-19 cases, things seem to be getting back to normal.
Let’s take a look at why 2020 could be a record-breaking year in Christmas and holiday spending.
The Rising Expenditure During the Holiday Season
People have been spending more and more on Christmas shopping every year for the past three to four years. The previous year recorded record-breaking sales of $138.65 billion during the 5-day Christmas online shopping period from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday.
This number was 13.6% higher than the prior year. Though both online and offline sales have depleted amid the COVID-19 crisis, people are eagerly waiting for the upcoming festive season. The frustrating shopping halt caused by the COVID-19 has increased the buying capacity of several online shoppers, which can be seen in the Christmas spending this year.
Change in Customer Behavior
For now, it’s difficult to predict which customers will show up this holiday season. The shopper behavior this season is likely to be a case of haves and have-nots. For those who’re still working and are in a strong financial position, Christmas shopping will be business as usual. In fact, they may try to make up for the lost times and go extremely enthusiastic and aggressive with Christmas shopping online.
On the other hand, there might be some online shoppers who are in a worse financial situation. These shoppers may prefer sobriety. They’ll look for cheaper deals and offers. It’s hard to say if the holiday season will bring the best out of the buyers. But what’s certain is a rise in demand.
Focus on a Handful of Retailers
In 2019, The Big Three – Amazon, Walmart, and Target – received the majority share of consumer purchasing. The same trend may continue this year as well. This is, however, bad news for so many retailers that are on the cusp of survival.
Online retailers will need to be robust about their assortments and marketing budgets, along with focusing on logistics to deliver swiftly. Sadly, not all retailers will be in the position to make this happen.
In-stock a Concern Over the Holidays
Product availability has been a significant challenge during the coronavirus pandemic. Close to 50% of online shoppers have experienced out-of-stock and shipping delays. But waiting for shipments during the holiday season is not something the shoppers would want. As the holiday season approaches, retailers will strive to return to the expected delivery standards as they were before the pandemic.
Deciding the right amount of inventory to stock is another challenge retailers are likely to face. Every seller must examine whether to carry the cost of excess inventory or balance their ability to get back into hot products.
The Fulfillment Strategies of Retailers
Even before the coronavirus outbreak during early 2020, online shoppers were hoping retailers would do better with faster deliveries. With the holiday season coming closer, shoppers are back to their past preferences. Retailers that’ll be able to fulfill the expectations of the customers have a better chance to thrive during the Christmas shopping season.
It’s critical to talk about product prices and how willing the average shopper will be to pay full price. Retailers will find themselves hanging in a make-or-break situation, pushing them to promote early and often. But the question also arises that will online shoppers wait for sales, or will they go for the regular prices.
Free shipping is another important topic worth discussing. Almost every Christmas online shopping survey ever conducted as concluded that free shipping is a perk all shoppers enjoy. Free shipping was prevalent in the 2019 holiday season, and the same trend may continue this year, too.
The Importance of Omnichannel
The increased adoption of omnichannel during COVID-19 is suggesting that shoppers will expect store-based services to continue. Curbside pickup, for example, played an emerging role during the pandemic, and shoppers may expect this option to be available at various retailers during the shopping season.
This is evident as many online shoppers have begun ordering online and picking up products at the store. Though the prevalence of curbside pickup was lower before the pandemic, it has certainly risen now. Therefore, curbside pickup will be a key factor for retailers who’re planning to extend their omnichannel capabilities into the holiday shopping season and beyond.
Key Consumer Trends to Expect During the Holiday Season
Retailers may look at last year’s trends and stats to devise this year’s advertising campaigns. But looking into the 2019 Christmas and Black Friday won’t be enough to prepare for this year. Here’s a quick look into some holiday trends for the 2020 holiday season every retailer should be prepared for.
- All holiday shoppers and gift-givers will lean on e-commerce, though some will also want to visit stores. Retailers should, therefore, focus on both online shopping and offline markets.
- Driving loyalty would be difficult during this season, but it will also be an ample opportunity.
- Mobile applications will have a large influence on shoppers across every single stage of the funnel.
- The lifestyle of the consumers will guide their holiday gift choices.
- Holiday season travelers will focus on keeping their visits local or virtual.
It’s hard to say how consumer behavior will take shape during this holiday season. But what’s certain is that this season is expected to be big, and possible record-breaking. But it also goes without saying that these times will be difficult for the retailers. The competition will be immense, the customer expectations will be high, and the scope of error will be bleak.