5 Ways the Pandemic will Change-Holiday Shopping
October 10, 2021 | By Amber Aldrich
A year ago, we were entering a holiday season full of unknowns. With cases on the rise, and without a widely available vaccine, we knew the holiday season would be unlike years past. Gatherings were small or cancelled altogether. Black Friday shopping crowds were nonexistent. Holiday events were called off.
A year later, with Delta variant concerns persisting, business and marketers are left wondering what version of “normal” this holiday season will bring.
In a recent client event, The Seattle Times Media Solutions gave five predictions on how COVID-19 will change the holiday shopping season in 2021, and perhaps forever.
- Probably the most obvious – eCommerce shopping has accelerated and will continue to grow. During the pandemic, eCommerce spending increased by 32.4% and in 2021, it will again grow by a predicted 17.9%, according to That equates to about 15% of all retail sales that will occur online, a percentage that is predicted to grow to nearly a quarter of all sales by 2025.
- While online shopping will increase, there will be a small return to in-person shopping, +9% to 2020. Retailers will need to cater to offline and online experiences. In-person advantages of
“shopping with your senses” will bring shoppers to the stores, but online experiences must cater to convenience, selection and personalization. This creates a unique challenge – and opportunity – for retail business.
- Holiday shopping will start earlier than ever. 22% of consumers say they will shop earlier this year and 25% will do most of their shopping before Thanksgiving, according to CSA. With more time online, shipping delay concerns and events like Amazon Prime Day luring early shopping, the holiday shopping season now spans a much longer timeframe than prior years.
- During the pandemic, consumers spent more time on social media and had more exposure to new brands. This year, 83% say they intend to continue to shop from brands they recently discovered. eCommerce social sales will play a big part. eMarketer predicts 35.8% increase on social commerce spending this year, with platforms like Facebook and Instagram driving discoverability.
- Consumers will shop their values. COVID-19 led many people to reflect on what’s important. With more choices than ever, consumers are shopping businesses that align with their beliefs and values. One value is supporting local businesses. According to Constant Contact, 72% of consumers will make a greater effort to shop small in 2021.
For local businesses, there are opportunities in each of these trends to capture consumers in new and different ways. Another positive sign for local business: According to eMarketer, total retail spending will increase by 7.9% in 2021 compared to 2020.
For more information and tips on taking advantage of these changing trends, download a free recording of the webinar “Marketing Strategies for the 2021 Holiday Season.”