A Holiday Like No Other: Trends for This Year’s (Mostly Online) Shopping Season

This holiday shopping season is certain to be a holiday like no other. As retailers work to push sales amid a sluggish economy, slow supply chain, and consumer safety concerns, they are having to rethink what they want to sell, when they want to sell it, and how. Here are 4 ways this holiday shopping season will be like no other.

Holiday Shopping Will Start Sooner

Holiday sales and shopping are expected to start even earlier this year. The holiday season will officially begin on October 10 as an alliance of retailers and brands of all sizes is set to launch a new shopping event called the “10.10 Shopping Festival”, with the primary goal of offering the products consumers want via in-store and online options without the heavy discounting that typically goes into Black Friday promotions.

In addition, the famous Amazon Prime Day is scheduled for October 13 and 14 this year. Analysts expect this early October Prime Day could steal up to 10% of the traditional Black Friday and Cyber Week sales. To pile on, Target and Walmart have announced their own sales days. Target’s event, called Target Deal Days, will include its largest-ever sale, with Black Friday pricing available throughout November. It’s also offering an extended price-match guarantee.  Walmart’s “Big Save” event will run October 11 through October 15 and promises Black-Friday like prices.

Safety and Availability Will Trump Savings

Safety will be top of mind for shoppers. Consumers are more concerned this year about staying safe and getting the products they want in time for Christmas than they are about deep discounts.

A consumer survey conducted by Coresight Research on September 14 found that 55% of respondents are still uncomfortable going to shopping centers, 98% are uncomfortable in public places, and 30% said they will start their holiday shopping earlier this year because most will be bought online and they want to ensure they get the shipments in time.

Large retailers like Target and Walmart have vowed to stay closed on Thanksgiving to accommodate customers and employee safety concerns.

e-Commerce and Curbside Pickup Will Explode

Black Friday deal hunting and in-store holiday shopping are ghosts of this Christmas’s past.

Digital-Commerce (Mobile Commerce, Social Commerce, E-Commerce), as well as BOPIS (Buy Online, Pick-up In Store) and curbside pickup usage, are likely to explode as many shoppers avoid stores out of safety concerns. In fact, analysts predict that retailers that offer curbside pickup will see a 90% increase in sales this year over last.

Santa’s Workshop Deliveries May Be Delayed

With more shopping happening online, the increase in shipping demand along with social distancing requirements in distribution centers means that traditional shipping providers will be at full capacity during the holidays. This means holiday shipping cutoff dates are expected to be set earlier than normal this year.

It is even expected that last-mile delivery carriers (like FedEx, UPS, and DHL) will run out of capacity, with as many as 700 million packages at risk for delay. Some retailers will offer 15% discounts to consumers who fulfill in stores as an incentive.

Despite retailers’ struggles this year as they are forced to reinvent the shopping season, consumers’ spirits remain relatively merry and bright. New research from WSL Strategi Retail, a New York-based retail consultancy, finds shoppers are feeling less worried about money than they were early on in the crisis, with 47% saying they feel financially secure. Consumers are predicted to spend money on gifts for the family that fit their current lifestyle and avoid “gifts of experiences” this year.


For assistance with your upcoming holiday marketing campaigns, consult our Digital Marketing team. We’ll help you stay ahead of the curve and spread some holiday marketing cheer this season.

Written by Valerie Prudente