It's no secret that spending and shopping habits have changed.
After a year of lockdowns, people are ready to spend more than ever, with holiday retail sales expected to reach a record-breaking $1.093 trillion. But the way customers shop doesn’t look the same anymore, and it's not going back to the pre-pandemic normal.
From an increased desire to shop locally, use curbside pickup and buy online, pick up in store, to the explosion of buy now, pay later, the 2021 holiday season is going to be defined by pandemic shopping trends settling into post-pandemic habits.
These shifts present an opportunity for small to medium retailers to fill the demand for convenient, high quality local shopping options, if they're prepared.
Trend: eCom is even more important
Retailers have been hearing it for years now, and it’s more true than ever: your customers are online, and you should be as well.
The 2021 holiday season will be punctuated by a projected record-breaking share of sales happening through eCommerce—yes, higher than last year. Some big retailers are even planning to close their doors on Thanksgiving, which means for the second year in a row the Black Friday and Cyber Monday blitz will start online.
Trend: The hot new gift spots are local retailers
Local retailers shined during the pandemic—one survey found about a third of shoppers were making an effort to frequent more independent retailers near them. With the right moves, that momentum will continue during the 2021 holiday season. Especially because more customers than ever are up for grabs, with 75% having tried something new, including switching brands entirely.
Beyond relying on world-of-mouth, local retailers need a plan for how they're taking advantage of this momentum. Customers who want to shop local are often spoiled for choice, so the key is to stand out.
Trend: Black Friday is important, but so is the rest of the season
Customers are already buying gifts—31% started shopping in June. While Black Friday and Cyber Monday are tentpole shopping days, viewing the Thanksgiving weekend as the start of the holidays is a costly mistake.
The main event isn't in November—it's happening right now. Supply chain delays, a staple of the last year, are sure to drag on as more and more customers head to stores to get their gifts. Busy periods will just get more hectic. There's no more time to wait.
Trend: The habits, new and old, that define 2021 holiday shopping
This year's holiday shopper has picked up and retained pandemic shopping habits. They've also held onto old favorites with new fervor.
Expecting things to go back to the way they were is a mistake. Retailers need to keep innovating on their pandemic adaptations to keep up with the new shopper and the way they effortlessly move between online and offline sales.
Knowing what customers are on the lookout for—like buy now, pay later or the gift card explosion—is key. Missing even one trending must-have could be the difference between competitors.
The 2021 holiday season is the start of a new era
With a new holiday shopping season comes new challenges and new opportunities. We’re beyond going back to normal. Retailers and customers alike are defining the new normal.
With projected record sales for the holiday season—including an anticipated $5.45 billion for Small Business Saturday—the new normal is promising, so long as retailers keep up with the trends.
To learn how to take advantage of this momentum, get our free guide and ace your holiday season.