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How Holiday Shopping Will Be Different This Year: Part 1 of 2

Like everything else in 2020, the holiday season will look different.

For many retailers, a strong end to the year won’t come as easily as usual. They won’t be able to rely on what has always worked before. Businesses must challenge assumptions, adapt and improvise. It will take more planning and preparation than ever, and if you’re a business owner and haven’t already started, it’s time to get the ball rolling.

Many consumers have already started their holiday gift shopping in some capacity. Gone are the days of last minute shopping in the days leading up to Christmas (at least at lot less, and at least for now). We’re still weeks away from Halloween and sleigh bells are already ringing. For businesses, shipping delays and inventory issues are on the top of their list of concerns. To help combat this, start building buzz about your holiday deals starting now – and use every channel available to you to spread the word.

It will come as no surprise that online shopping will reign supreme this holiday shopping season. USA Today recently published that IBM projects sales at “non-store retailers to continue to accelerate, growing by 35% in November to December”. That’s compared to an increase of 24% from March to July of this year. Almost half of people polled say they’ll do all their gift shopping digitally, about 27% plan to shop in store, and around 30% will do a mix of both. (USA Today)

Some communities are organizing outdoor markets and pop-ups to offer a lower-risk opportunity for those who prefer to shop for gifts in person. Downtown Easton is even considering an outdoor holiday shopping village of it’s own ( A good statistic local retailers can look forward to – 66% of people surveyed said they will shop more at their neighborhood small businesses. (Shulman,

A trend that was noted back in early summer with Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, was the significant uptick in traditional, tangible gifts vs experience-based gifts, such as concert tickets and events. Due to the uncertainty of what the next several months to a year holds, it’s the safest bet to give a gift that won’t get cancelled or postponed. Consumers are expected to opt for practical gifts/ Home entertainment gifts will also be big with holiday shoppers this year (think ride on toys and trampolines for kids).

If one thing is for sure, it’s that consumers are tired of Covid-19 messaging in advertising. At first, the “we’re in this togethers”, the “now more than evers”, and “these uncertain times” were nice, but 7 months in, they’re just plain sick of hearing it. Keep that in mind with your holiday promotions. This year, it’s all about sending a safe, familiar message of the good old days. According to a recent article in Adweek, nostalgia will be a powerful player in holiday advertising this season.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this 2 part blog series!

statistic sources:

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