After a 2020 holiday retail season that was like no other, people are yearning for a full return to pre-pandemic seasonal traditions, which includes the fun of holiday shopping. And while COVID variants and a return of precautionary measures threaten to throw a curveball into what was supposed to be a return to normalcy, things are looking good for both consumers and retailers as the holidays approach.
Judging by early predictions from retail and ecommerce experts, the 2021 holiday shopping season is expected to be very merry indeed. With an increase in vaccinations and a growing economy, shoppers are expected to flock to traditional retail stores and continue 2020’s trend of robust online shopping. The National Retail Federation (NRF) predicts this year’s retail sales to be more than $4.33 trillion, a sharp increase from the 2020’s higher-than-expected $789.4 billion sales figures.
Still, despite these cheery predictions, the 2021 holiday shopping season will be critical for brands and retailers hoping to rebound from the financial disaster that was 2020. In part 1 of our holiday shopping series, let’s take a look at how 2020’s retail trends will continue to impact the shopping experience in 2021, shaping what retailers and shoppers can expect as the holidays approach.
Emotions will drive this year’s holiday shopping
As communities continue to shed COVID-19 restrictions, people are tentatively planning to spend the 2021 holidays reconnecting with family and friends. Because the pandemic made many uneasy about partaking in family traditions last year, 64% of U.S. consumers say this holiday season will be more emotional. Accordingly, 62% of American consumers plan on spending more than they did in 2019. And while consumers will re-embrace a return to traditional brick and mortar businesses, they will also continue to shop online.
Online shopping trends will continue to dominate
Even with the ability to shop at brick and mortar locations, economists predict ecommerce will once again contribute greatly to this year’s holiday sales figures. According to forecasts from eMarketer, retail ecommerce sales are projected to make up 18.9% of total holiday retail sales in 2021, up from 17.5% last year, and will account for almost 20% of 2021’s holiday sales. Ecommerce sales for Thanksgiving and Black Friday alone, traditionally the official kickoff of the holiday shopping season, are projected to score $6.21 billion in sales When all is said and done, 2021’s online sales are projected to be close to $206 billion..
Consumers will continue to prefer convenience
This year, the omnichannel click-and-collect trends BOPIS (buy online, pick up in store) and BOPAC (buy online, pick up at curb) that boomed in 2020 are expected to remain popular with consumers. According to Statista, the growth rate for click-and-collect will be upward of 10% this year.
This continued shopping trend is not surprising, as the NRF found that the convenience of click-and-collect options improved the customer experience by 70%. And since 80% of American consumers rank speed and convenience as the most important aspects of a positive customer experience, it looks like BOPIS and BOPAC are here to stay.
Retailers will face inventory shortages and delayed shipping
While the retail forecast looks robust on paper, many roadblocks could spell trouble for holiday consumers and retailers. Shortages of raw materials, factory shutdowns due to Covid-19, global shipping slowdowns, and cracks in the supply chain that have led to limited inventories could put a strain on retail operations and ultimately, the customer shopping experience.
In a reflection of a 2020 trend, brands will likely push early deals, sharp bargains, and free shipping to help ease supply chain and inventory concerns and to engage shoppers before key shopping days. That strategy worked well for retailers in 2020, as 40% of consumers started shopping for holiday gifts earlier than they normally would. This year, 38% of shoppers say they will begin in October and 61% say they will begin before Thanksgiving.
Increased digital consumption will steer digital marketing strategies
In 2020, as people sheltered in place, media consumption soared. According to eMarketer, the average daily time spent on various media channels ballooned to a whopping 13 hours in 2020. This increase, which includes online and streaming TV, social media, and online video channels like YouTube, Tik Tok, and Instagram Reels, is expected to increase by 2.0% in 2021.
As brand marketers capitalized on these trends, omnichannel and social media retailing helped spur the amazing rise of ecommerce. Economists expect more of the same this holiday season. In fact, Insider Intelligence forecasts that U.S. retail social commerce sales will rise by 35.8% to $36.62 billion in 2021.
As a result, today’s retailers must be present across all of the digital platforms their customers and followers frequent. They must also create exciting content and messaging that will keep consumers engaged, interested in their brand, and ultimately, encourage them to buy products.
This content was originally published here.