What Do the Holidays Look Like?

In July, a leading omnichannel commerce technology company (Radial) announced the results of their 2020 consumer insights study. Over 1,000 consumers across the US were surveyed todetermine their holiday shopping plans. Radial uncovered that despite the impact of COVID-19, shoppers do not plan to significantly change their holiday spend compared to 2019. However, the data did reveal a stronger preference for online shopping, with 66% of shoppers anticipating they will increase their online purchases during the 2020 holiday season.

While consumers are shopping more online, the survey found their habits aren’t changing significantly in terms of how much they plan to spend on holiday gifts and when they plan to buy. This means the 2020 holiday season will most likely be as busy as ever.

However, instead of the recurring and seasonal demand cycles retailers are used to, in the wake of COVID-19, brands must contend with consistent high demand for e-commerce year-round. Radial reported that this year, peak season for online sales essentially started in March and remained strong since. Retailers must leverage unique strategies like using stores as fulfillment centers and creative order management techniques paired with advanced technology in order to keep deliveries flowing by embracing curbside pickup and other emerging consumer expectations to satisfy the upcoming holiday purchasing season.

Given the continued high demands and online orders retailers will experience, scaling up for peak season will be more difficult than in years past.

The survey also uncovered:

  • 60% of consumers plan to shop less in-store this season due to fear of COVID-19 exposure. While there is still an appetite for in-store shopping, safety concerns and deeper consumer familiarity with online ordering indicates that e-commerce will certainly see higher activity than in previous years.
  • Despite the impact of the pandemic on delivery times, 41% of shoppers say they don’t plan to shop any earlier for holiday gifts meaning retailers will have no break between the current COVID-19 commerce climate and the already overwhelming holiday peak season rush.
  • 39% of shoppers plan to start shopping for the holidays in October into early November, and 30% plan to start on Black Friday/Cyber Monday.
  • The majority of consumers surveyed plan to spend the same amount of money as last year on holiday gifts.

63% of shoppers say they are slightly or very much more likely to purchase from a retailer they knew was following COVID-19 safety precautions in-store.

Consumer expectations have eased up in terms of what’s an “acceptable” delivery time. While a Radial survey in 2018 found that in the U.S., over a third of consumers (34.6%) expected to receive packages in two days or less, this 2020 survey found only 14% expect their holiday gifts within two days. What is considered a reasonable timeframe for holiday gift deliveries has shifted, with 50% of respondents saying 5 days for delivery is reasonable, and 28% stating one week was acceptable. This leeway in delivery expectations will allow retailers to focus
on implementing practices that prioritize COVID-19 safety precautions and help them
manage the influx of orders.

It’s so difficult to forecast and plan for the future during these trying times. However, if this survey is a good indicator, it looks like our businesses will have a relatively positive fourth quarter.


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