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Inside a reimagined holiday season

Note from the editor

Black Friday traditionally marks the start of the shopping season, as retailers and analysts watch to see how trends and early indicators play out in the weeks between the sales kick-off and the holidays themselves. 

2020 is likely to be anything but traditional. E-commerce was already a big story in 2019, and with the specter of the coronavirus looming over the season this year that trend is likely to accelerate. Amazon moved its annual Prime Day to mid-October, followed swiftly by announcements from Walmart and Target that they too would hold blockbuster sales during the same time frame. And effectively, the holiday shopping season was off and running. Even before that, some retailers had already announced efforts to avoid the high-traffic, in-person shopping events of prior years in favor of a more drawn out holiday season and lots of e-commerce. Even the Macy's Thanksgiving parade has gone virtual.

Holiday e-commerce sales in the U.S. grew by 13.2% in 2019 to $137.6 billion, according to a report from eMarketer emailed to Retail Dive. Per the report, U.S. holiday retail sales increased by 3.7% in 2019 to about $1.01 trillion, exceeding $1 trillion for the first time. The report predicted that e-commerce holiday sales will reach about $156.7 billion in 2020, which would be an increase of 13.9% — and that was in the before times. Online spending is now certain to play a significant role in a season marked by social distancing.

We're about to find out how festive 2020's results will be for retailers.

5 ways retailers have adapted to a Black Friday unlike any other

Curbside sales, staggered discounts, websites that hold your place in line — retailers are reinventing Black Friday for a pandemic.

The holidays are here. Where's the consumer?

Uncertainty about the pandemic and the economy is defining the season as retailers try to coax customers to spend early on all channels.

Delays, surcharges and returns: Holiday shipping headaches have just begun

In a season expected to produce more than $190 billion from online sales alone, retailers are pulling out all the stops to keep up with demand.

October's deal blitz set the stage for the holidays with online spending surge

Will customer acquisition be the nightmare before Christmas?

While DTC brands have long struggled with acquiring customers online, their problems may be more heightened than ever this year.

Half of holiday shoppers plan to use curbside or contactless pickup: survey

Developments and Trends in Holiday Shopping

Holiday e-commerce sales in the U.S. grew by 13.2% in 2019 to $137.6 billion, according to a report from eMarketer emailed to Retail Dive. Per the report, U.S. holiday retail sales increased by 3.7% in 2019 to about $1.01 trillion, exceeding $1 trillion for the first time. The report predicted that e-commerce holiday sales will reach about $156.7 billion in 2020, which would be an increase of 13.9% — and that was in the before times. Online spending is now certain to play a significant role in a season marked by social distancing.

included in this trendline
  • How retailers can build on the warmth of holiday shopping
  • What the holidays could do to department stores
  • How to get on Gen Z's wish list this season
Our Trendlines go deep on the biggest trends. These special reports, produced by our team of award-winning journalists, help business leaders understand how their industries are changing.
Davide Savenije Editor-in-Chief at Industry Dive.