We are officially in December, and Christmas is slowly approaching. What associations do you have with Christmas? Beautiful city decorations, illuminated shop windows, Christmas markets with the warm smell of Glühwein, crowded shops, last-minute gift runs for your loving ones, big family gatherings, and celebrations.
Sadly, not this year. Most of the markets will be closed, shops will have visitor limits, and many families would rather stay home celebrating in a small circle. This year has changed our routines, traditions, and behaviors, including the way we go shopping.
For sure, despite the second wave of COVID-19 and new restrictions, people still want to get distracted, celebrate, and feel the calming Christmas spirit in this changing world. But let's look at what has changed since last Christmas and what new trends have araised.
Many people started their Christmas shopping early. According to McKinsey's report, 33% of their respondents stated that they plan to shop earlier than last year. On one side, this behavior is related to the fear of facing an out of stocks or delay in deliveries. On the other side, looking at recent research, 41% of consumers were attracted by deals and promotions that many retailers have offered far in advance this year.
Also, the Amazon Prime Day shift to early October may explain why consumers start looking for gifts long before Black Friday.
Online shopping is a trend that has grown throughout this year, since the first lockdown, and it is predicted to continue its rise for the Christmas season.
More than 45% of consumers, as reported by Tinuiti, will shop more online for the holidays due to the pandemic. Overall, 48.5% of respondents say they will shop entirely or mostly online, with another 22.3% saying they will shop equally online and in stores. The majority of shoppers, 51.7%, will use an in-store pickup, increasing 20% year over year.
Surely many consumers choose to shop online because of the fear of the virus spread and avoid long queues, waiting, and crowds. But what else has driven shoppers to buy more online?
On the one hand, 25% of people say that shopping online is cheaper than in-store. Another 20% say that the main reason is the convenience and ease. Retailers that are offering promotions, services like free shipping, "Buy now, pay later", "Pick up in-store", or "Click&Collect" options see their sales increase substantially.
It is obvious that the pandemic has also hit our economies and family budgets.
It might be expected that this year most people will spend less on gifts than last year. But people keep the desire to follow traditions and try to live old-style normality even during this unusual Christmas season.
Despite financial uncertainty, according to Rakuten Adverising research, 51% o shoppers do not plan o decrese their holiday send.
Also, looking to the global impact of COVID-19, 54% of consumers say there will be no change to their spend for key shopping dates in the first half of 2021, including Chinese New Year and Valentine's Day.
What is changing is the consumer's priorities when considering who choose for their shopping. Better prices/promotions, free shipping, and the most convenient return/exchange policies are the two main factors.
But at this time, people are also looking for brands that reflect their values and are more empathic about the current situation, ensuring safety for its employees and customers.
We are going through a huge economic crisis. This year many large companies have suffered major losses or had to shut down. Not to mention the small and local businesses. But consumers have become more sensitive and are trying to support them.
Looking to the Tinuiti research results, "while mass merchants and Amazon will earn the majority of holiday purchases, at 55.4%, a quarter of respondents will buy the majority of their gifts from small and local businesses. Online, Amazon dominates, with more than three quarters (78.1%) of shoppers planning to shop there during the holidays".
And in the US, especially young people, more than one out of five, decided to buy from brands supporting the Black Matters Movement.
This year an increasing number of consumers became less loyal and more open to try new brands, buying products from smaller and cheaper shops.
Retailers that place attractve deal and offer appaling gift idea are winning new customers. During the pandemic, 40% of consumers have tried new brands, and that behavior will continue over the holiday shopping period.
Only 12% of respondents say that they will shop from the same retailers and brands as they did last year.
Besides, considering the current situation, retailers are improving their websites, making it mobile-friendly, enriching product details, adjusting guides and policies, developing recommendation systems, and F&Q section. In addition, most of them started to use social media platform for marketing, customise offers. This attracts more customer and drive the sales revenue.
The 31% of consumers indicate that social media could trigger a gift purchase, while 25% say that brands' personalized campaigns would convince them to buy a gift.
Another behavior that emerged during the pandemic is the "self-gifting". We are all going through a difficult time, with anxiety and fear. What better solution to pamper our spirits than shopping therapy?
The common mentality now is "I deserve a small gift, a cuddle for myself after all these months locked up at home". Consumers are buying more self-care product and the prediction is that will continue in this way for all the holidays season. Consumers' popular products at the moment include homeware, health and beauty, fitness equipment, and comfortable clothing.
Certainly this year's holiday season will be the most digital of all time and the most competitive. The commercial pressure and the search for promotions and convenience will be a constant and many brands will be able to acquire new customers. Besides good prices and promotions, this Christmas many consumers would also like to see something new and exciting from retailers.