Retail has become a fast-changing industry, especially this year. The pandemic, for example, altered lots of consumer habits on Black Friday and the holiday shopping weekend.
We know that cautious shoppers shifted a lot of their buying to online and in-store crowds were much leaner. The traditional holiday shopping season got almost two months longer as online sellers began offering deals galore in early October. Those who went to stores made quicker, more purposeful trips and many took advantage of ordering online just for pickup at the curb or direct delivery to their homes.
In the process, trends have appeared in the retail industry. It’s too early to know what it will look like in a year, but here’s what the new normal has been so far this year.
- E-commerce. Adobe Analytics estimates that U.S. online consumers spent $6.3 million per minute during the holiday weekend.
- Prime Day stretched the traditional start of the season from the end of November to the beginning of October. One analyst observed that instead of just a Big Bang on Black Friday we’re seeing what’s becoming more of a Cyber Month.
- Curbside pickup went from being a retail footnote into a major force. Some 52% of shoppers told the International Council of Shopping Centers that they planned to use curbside service last weekend.
- Many large retailers saw their online sales on Thanksgiving (when many traditional stores were closed) grow by 403% when compared to October averages, according to Adobe.
- Shoppers who wait until the last minute to order gift for delivery may lose out. Busy online sellers are scrambling more than ever to keep up with orders. Anyone who hesitates too much might have their plans upset.
- Store traffic. Shopping patterns were already changing but the pandemic accelerated everything. Fewer than 20% of shoppers were forecasted to shop in store on Black Friday, according to Deborah Weinswig, CEO and founder of Coresight Research, based on research the Monday before Thanksgiving.
- Stores had limitations of 25% instore capacity and had to enforce social distancing in the store.
As COVID vaccines become available, it will be interesting to watch how much our holiday traditions will evolve. The great new is – retail’s not going anywhere! It just may not ever look the same.