Things are going to be different this year. There’s a lot of uncertainty around Christmas, not least for businesses, so we’ve put together seven retail predictions for Christmas 2020, looking at how the behaviour of consumers will shift for the upcoming festive period.
Online shopping becomes king
The balance has been shifting towards online shopping for years, but people have still preferred to go in-store for their festive shopping. This could be because it’s easier to get ideas while browsing the shelves or just for the ritual of it all.
This year though, with COVID cases still rising and a month-long lockdown in place, more people can’t visit shops in November and won’t want to risk it in December (especially if they have to queue outside shops in the freezing cold for hours).
This means that brands need to make sure their e-commerce functionality is on point, including being mobile-ready and having a quick, smooth checkout process.
Goodbye last-minute rush
This might be the year that a lot of us kick the habit of last-minute panic buying, get our s*** together and order our Christmas presents in plenty of time. Or not, but we’ll see.
It’s no secret that the pandemic has caused delays and delivery problems for many retailers, and this will only be exacerbated come Christmas. In anticipation of these issues, consumers might order earlier than usual this year, so any Christmas-related deals or delivery changes will need to be implemented earlier by retailers to make the most of this.
As a side note, we’ll probably see most brands extend their returns period to account for these difficulties.
Some people will be hesitant to spend this year due to the financial hardships brought about by COVID, but there will be plenty of others who want to make up for the fact that “Christmas is cancelled” by spending more on presents.
It’s becoming increasingly unlikely by the day that we will be able to have any big family gatherings or Christmas parties, but people still need an outlet for their festivity.
Brands could well play up to this trend, by tailoring their online messaging towards making up for lack of face time with those we’d usually spend the holidays with by gifting more generously.
Less stocking fillers, more meaningful gifting
Our next Christmas 2020 retail prediction is that we could also see a rise in ‘meaningful gifting’ to make up for what has been an emotionally difficult year.
A lot of people found time for new hobbies (or old ones they’d let go by the wayside) during lockdown and Christmas 2020 will likely see gifts that cater to these new passions. Gifting could also be geared towards reconnecting those who have been forced to stay apart this year, through devices like Facebook’s Portal.
There is also likely to be a higher demand for products that have personalisation options, such as engraving, embroidery or custom printing for photos.
More emphasis on ethical gifts
Another change we could see for Christmas 2020 is the increased focus on ethical and sustainable gifts. The climate crisis has gained even more attention, through the work of activists like Greta Thunberg (and her butting heads with Donald Trump) and David Attenborough’s A Life on Our Planet forcing many of us to review how our purchase choices are affecting the planet.
As people look to living more sustainably and are more conscious of ethical issues, they will turn to brands who share these values.
Customers will be … less loyal?
Our next prediction may sound a little weird, but customers may be less loyal this year. A lot of people have favoured brands that they turn to time and time again, especially in the cases of larger companies, but this year could see consumers shopping around more, trying to get a better deal.
According to Google, 50% of shoppers tried a new shopping service for the first time this season, so brands should be making sure their marketing is up to scratch to attract these new customers.
Long live local
Our final Christmas 2020 retail prediction is one that we really hope comes true. This year could see more people turning to their local businesses for their festive shopping. Everyone is aware of the hardships that the pandemic has brought upon businesses, and that only massive online retailers such as Amazon have benefitted from it.
Supporting local stores may well be a more popular option this year, as it will give some much-needed life to local economies and will also yield more unique gifts.
If the shops are allowed to open their premises again before Christmas, visits to less crowded, local stores are going to be more appealing than long queues in the cold for department stores. However, not everyone will be comfortable doing their shopping in person this year, even if they are permitted to, so local stores need to make sure they are fully set up for ecommerce.
That concludes our Christmas 2020 retail predictions! There’s no question that this year will be far from normal but when it comes to retail, the big takeaway is that brands need a solid ecommerce offering in order to make the most out of a changing market. Brands who reach people during these times will be set up to gain loyal customers beyond Christmas.