Saying that the 2020 holiday shopping season will be different is an understatement. The pandemic has upended so many factors that previously drove holiday sales that retailers are entering completely new territory. For one, the virus has people wary of enclosed or crowded places, meaning that the rush to malls is forever changed. The pandemic has also forced retailers and restaurants to close, creating financial hardships for businesses and individuals. Instead of the usual influx of shoppers ready to spend money, average spending per household is expected to drop 7 percent compared to the 2019 holiday shopping season. To adapt to this new environment, retailers must understand the current holiday shopping trends and implement solutions to leverage these trends.  

Online Shopping

With health concerns and limited in-store capacities, it makes sense that more consumers will be turning towards online holiday shopping in 2020. In fact, in the first ten days of the holiday shopping season, U.S. consumers spent $21.7 billion online — a 21 percent year-over-year jump. To stay safe and avoid crowds, consumers will be using online shopping more than ever before. That means that brick and mortar retailers will need to adjust expectations about the season and adapt to allow for online shopping.  As the holiday season approaches, expect an influx of last-minute e-commerce purchases.

For retailers looking to take advantage of online shoppers, they need to ensure that their site is optimized for both mobile and online. Mobile shopping is taking over the e-commerce industry, accounting for over 67.2 percent of all online sales. This year alone, mobile sales are set to reach $2.91 trillion. This proves that although it’s important to have an e-commerce retail system in place ahead of the 2020 holiday shopping season, it will be even more important to optimize the platform for all devices, especially mobile. If it isn’t optimized, retailers could lose out on valuable income.

Buy Online Pick-Up In-Store

As we noticed with the first round of lockdowns in March, the influx of online shopping created delays with the postal service. During the holiday season, these delays can be costly for retailers, as they could lead to unsatisfied customers who did not get their packages on time. To avoid this ordeal, savvy shoppers will be relying on buy online, pick up in-store services. This allows them to order online to avoid crowds but assures them that their gifts will be available on time, as they can be picked up from the store, avoiding postal delays.

To create the best experience for consumers who are buying online but picking up in-store, retailers need to ensure that they have efficient scheduling apps available. For retailers, appointment scheduling apps will ensure that they have all packages ready for the customer at the appropriate time. For consumers, it cuts down on the traffic and crowds when picking up their purchases. Qless Flex Appointments also has the added benefit of integrating with walk-in customers. When a customer books their pick up time, the app will send them text and email reminders, which helps to reduce no-shows. Meanwhile, if people need to reschedule their appointments, walk-in customers can take advantage of free slots to shop in-store, ensuring that the customer service team isn’t overwhelmed and the store isn’t crowded. 

Supporting The Community

One of the biggest holiday shopping trends in 2020 is the rise of the conscious consumer — consumers that care about their community and use their dollars to support it. This means that they will be buying socially conscious products and looking for local alternatives to big box stores. It is predicted that 18 percent of all holiday shoppers in 2020 will fall into the conscious consumer category, which means that they hold a significant amount of spending power.

For local shops and independent retailers, it’s easy to attract these consumers. For larger stores, they’ll need to get creative to attract conscious shoppers. One easy way to show the consumers that your business cares about the community is to implement a charity initiative. Retailers could implement toy or food drives in-store, or they could donate a portion of sales to local charities that align with their corporate values and vision. The key here is to be genuine — the consumer will know if it’s just a ploy to get money. The important thing to remember is that everyone is struggling. Finding small ways to help the community will go a long way to ensuring that they are there to support you, now and after the pandemic. 

The holiday shopping season in 2020 will create more challenges than we could have predicted, but it’s also an important time of year to make up for lost revenue caused by the pandemic. By making sure that retailers are updating their strategies to meet customer demands, they can still benefit from recent holiday shopping trends.