Holiday Shopping 2020 – Merchant Expectations

Retail Expectations

There is no doubt that holiday shopping in a pandemic is going to be different than any past holiday season you might remember. Even though we are still in the pandemic, we are beginning to see trends that emerged over this past holiday weekend. With stay-at-home orders in place in many states, retailers were forced to focus on online sale and curbside pickups. We see this as a continuing trend throughout the holiday season as shoppers favor social distancing over fantastic deals. What this means for merchants is that your website should be setup properly for an increase in online sales. People want simple: This means providing an option for storing a credit card on file for future purchases. It means having transactions processed smoothly. It means having a professional looking website that conveys trust and confidence during the purchase process.

How Was Black Friday?

The days of fighting to get into stores the moment they opened on Friday didn’t happen. While many brick and mortar stores opened for business to accommodate curbside deliveries, the mass crowd gathering seems to be a thing of the past. In fact, many retailers began pushing their Black Friday deals as early as October with the suggestion of, “why wait”? No one had to miss their Thanksgiving dinner so they could go stand in line to get a coveted TV, toy or Nike tennis shoes. What we did see was an increase in online sales happening on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday as people shopped from the convenience of their own home at all hours of the day and night.

Less to Spend

While no one wants to hear this, the fact is, despite the early Black Friday sales, retail sales are down from where they were on this same day in 2019. Experts predict the 2020 holiday season will see less spending overall. Surveys already show that consumers don’t have the funds or are too afraid to spend the funds this year.

The pandemic has been a tough time for many who have lost their jobs or continue to fear losing their jobs. Creating more debt or sacrificing things in January to pay off the Christmas debt isn’t really going to be an option this year.

Getting a Head Start

Many consumers want to spread their spending out and started their holiday shopping in October. This trend has continued, and we expect that as we get closer to Christmas Day, spending will increase almost every single day between today and the 25th.

Shop Local

Many consumers have shown a new interest in shopping local during the pandemic. We have seen the sales volume at local, independently-owned businesses trend upwards. While many small businesses have already failed during the pandemic, this has caused consumers to increase their patronage of local businesses as an expression of concern and support of their community. We expect to see larger than normal sales in local boutiques and retail stores this year. This is good news for small businesses.

One thing to remember about shopping local is that many businesses that you might consider to be national chains are in fact independently owned and operated by members of your community. This includes such restaurants as Outback Steakhouse, McDonald’s, Jimmy John’s and Cold Stone Creamery.

5 Things Consumers Love

In order to capture the most sales possible, here are some other trends that we are seeing that people love.

  • Mobile Point-of-Sale – The ability to process a sale on the go. People don’t like standing in line at cash registers.
  • Mobile Wallets – People love to pay with their phone using mobile wallets.
  • Contactless Payments – People love to tap their card and go. They don’t want to swipe or dip the chip. They want to Tap & Go.
  • Alexa Orders – People love to give commands to Alexa, Google and Siri such as, “Order a pizza from Dominos”. Be the first in your industry to connect with Alexa.
  • Peer-to-Peer Payments – Mobile apps such as Venmo and PayPal have become common for exchanges of money between people. Venmo can also be used to pay retail stores just the same as Apple Pay.

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