A look at the 2021 holiday season

Note from the editor

The holiday season in 2020 was anything but traditional. E-commerce was already a big story in 2019, and with the specter of the coronavirus looming over the 2020 season, that trend accelerated.

Early in the season, 2021 is proving to pose its own challenges for retailers. Surging demand has caused supply chain bottlenecks, and the delta variant is wreaking havoc across the globe. Consumers are once again facing an uncertain situation, and shipping carriers are already expecting extremely high peaks — and delays.

As we move further into the 2021 season, we will continue to track what retailers and shipping carriers are doing to navigate the uncertainty that looms over the holidays.

Cara Salpini Senior Editor

Holidays in review: What defined the season in 2020

From virtual services and contactless pickup to a Black Friday unlike any other, retailers were forced to adapt.

• Published Dec. 31, 2020

'We're going to see a lot of bare shelves': Retail preps for a holiday beset by supply chain pain

Bottlenecks from factories to cargo ships mean fewer goods on shelves and fewer discounts for the season.

• Published Oct. 4, 2021

Holiday sales could spike 9% in 2021: Deloitte

• Published Sept. 14, 2021

Retailers are betting on wage hikes, perks to woo workers ahead of the holidays. Will it work?

Employers are offering incentives like sign-on bonuses, tuition assistance and higher pay to staff up, but challenges remain.

• Published Oct. 11, 2021

'You can pay or you can wait': How retailers are navigating a shipping crisis

Consumer demand came raging back this year. The supply chain wasn't ready for it, and now retailers, brands and consumers are paying the price.

• Published Aug. 2, 2021

Macy's Thanksgiving parade is letting spectators back in this year

• Published Sept. 9, 2021

Shoppers returning to their earlier pandemic behaviors, research finds

• Published Sept. 13, 2021

COVID-19 surge, port delays threaten retailers' holiday plans

As the pandemic continues, preparing for the upcoming season becomes more complex. Retailers are facing labor shortages and limited inventory capacity.

• Published Sept. 27, 2021

Target triples Disney shop-in-shops ahead of holiday season

• Published Aug. 23, 2021

UPS: Peak demand projected to exceed capacity by 5M packages daily

• Published July 28, 2021

Party City to open four times more Halloween pop-ups as in 2020

• Published Aug. 10, 2021

Walmart follows Target in closing stores on Thanksgiving Day

• Published June 7, 2021

Winners and losers of Black Friday 2020

Online sales, curbside and store pickup have all surged as a sales event defined by the pandemic took shape.

• Published Nov. 28, 2020

What you need to know about the 2021 holiday shopping season

Last year's holiday season was anything but traditional, as e-commerce trends pushed many supply chains to the edge. With the 2021 holiday season upon us, catch up on everything you need to know about the 2021 holiday shopping season including:

included in this trendline
  • Why holiday sales could spike 9% in 2021
  • All retailers win as biggest Prime Day ever pushes US e-commerce above $11B
  • Target triples Disney shop-in-shops ahead of holiday season