Holiday Sales 2021: A Retail Recordbreaker?
Over the last several months, holiday retail sales forecasts have hovered at record breaking levels. While the final tabulation remains to be seen, a few perspectives on 2021 holiday shopping trends are already ringing true. Here’s the latest on what retailers are experiencing this season.
Holiday help is reaping higher wages.
Sign-on bonuses, higher hourly pay, transparent scheduling, and early wage access are among the benefits retailers are offering prospective candidates to woo them into working during the holidays. Many are promising permanent positions to give seasonal employees more stability.
Consumers are spending more.
Some forecasts indicate this season will bring in the highest holiday sales in history. Some 85% of shoppers will spend the same or more than in 2020. [Tinuity.com] Deloitte estimates holiday sales could increase by as much as 9%. In its Annual Holiday Shopping Intentions survey, ICSC predicts an increase of $923 billion in November and December sales compared to last year. A study from The NPD Group finds that a third of shoppers expect to buy more gifts as a result of visiting friends and family.
Shoppers are reaching for deals early.
Black Friday may be on the way out as many retailers have already announced they will be closed on the Friday after Thanksgiving to give employees the day off. And why not? Holiday deals and discounting began weeks before Halloween. This fits with what consumers want. Prompted by predicted supply chain delays, shoppers are hesitant to wait too late in the season to buy their gifts, and fully a third planned to purchase their gifts in October. [Tremor Video]
Apparel is the top seller.
Among all gift categories, clothing tops the popularity list, followed by electronics, and toys and videogames. As experiential interests expand, consumers are showing preferences for outdoor products, household items to use for celebratory and social get-togethers, and luxury items to show off to friends. [Salesforce]
Shopper priorities are changing.
The most influential factors for choosing a holiday gift retailer are: competitive pricing and discounts, customer service, and convenience. Curbside pickup and BOPIS remain popular. Free shipping has become a big plus, particularly because more than half of consumers are primarily shopping online. More than 90% of shoppers pinpoint free shipping as the most important online perk, while 60% focus on fast shipping. [Shopkick]
Shoppers are flocking to stores…
A Sensormatic Solutions survey indicates that in-store shopping will be up 8% from 2020, and the majority of respondents in the ICSC Annual Holiday Shopping Intentions survey intend to shop in brick-and-mortar stores. Among 70% of shoppers, the ability to try on, touch, and see physical products ranks as the highest motivator for in-person interactions. While in the store, 72% of shoppers expect retailers to observe safety measures during the holiday season. [Shopkick] Extended shopping hours to reduce crowding brings confidence to 42% of shoppers, while 38% welcome temperature checks. [Sensormatic Solutions]
…But online shopping remains strong.
Omnichannel options will drive a 13% increase in e-commerce sales. More than 50% of shoppers increased in-app ordering during the pandemic, with 84% expecting to continue this habit post-pandemic. [Inmobi] Smartphones remain the most popular shopping device, with 75% or more preferring it over tablets, voice-enabled devices, desktop computers, and in-person spending. [Tinuity.com] Shoppers appreciate personalization that blends digital touchpoints with their in-store experience.
Customers are dealing with out-of-stock shock.
Shipping bottlenecks compounded by port and factory closures and labor shortages have disrupted supply chains. FTI Consulting Managing Director Matt Garfield has said, “It’s going to be a rough holiday. We’re going to see a lot of bare shelves.” When customers begin hoarding gift cards, you’ll know why.
Holiday cheer is extending the purchasing season.
Marshal Cohen, chief retail industry adviser for The NPD Group, has said, “New optimism, along with underlying uncertainty, are fueling shopping expectations. It’s going to be a hybrid holiday, blending the return of a celebratory feeling with the now normalized pandemic lifestyle.” Cohen expects a “sustained propensity” for traditional November-to-December expenditures, plus a before-Thanksgiving to after-New Year’s extension of the holiday buying spree.
In The 2021 Holiday Planning Guide, Forrester suggests that a successful Q4 for retailers comes down to meeting customer expectations in four ways:
• Plan for marketing authenticity and adaptability
• Help busy, stressed customers with value-add info at the right time
• Develop fulfillment operations to build customer delivery confidence
• Increase customer trust by proactively preparing for security scenarios
MarketSource helps retail brands meet customer expectations while accelerating sales and revenue. We can customize a solution that works for you. LET’S TALK>>