Retailers are facing many challenges this holiday season.
There are in-store health and safety challenges, inventory shortages, shipping and fulfillment challenges—shall I go on? That said, the early sales data on holiday shopping is encouraging. A late November 2020 survey from RetailMeNot revealed that 93% of shoppers had not yet completed their holiday gift shopping, so we know there’s more to come.
The brands that are thriving are the ones that showed up early with engaging content for shoppers and promoted a range of fulfillment options in addition to having omnipresent offers. If your brand wasn’t one of them, that’s okay—there’s still time.
What shoppers are going through
Against the backdrop of a strange and trying year, it’s critical to keep your eye on how shoppers are enduring a holiday season like no other.
A couple of insights from our research:
● With many Americans taking special precautions for the holidays, roughly 40% are planning to spend money to host safe gatherings with friends or family. Among them, the average planned spend is $180.
● Some 77% will choose to see fewer people this holiday season than normal. Roughly the same number (75%) will be traveling less than normal. Approximately 65% say COVID-19 will impact when their family chooses to celebrate the holidays this year.
Many shoppers are late in figuring out their budgets for gift-giving. In some cases, this is because they still don’t know whom they will be seeing this holiday season. That’s why it’s important to understand that people are unsettled and in real need of inspiration.
What retailers should be doing
For retailers, the challenges are real, and the odds can seem long, but there are still plenty of ways you can win. Remember that note about shoppers looking for inspiration? That’s what you can provide through branded content like gift guides, tips, featured product roundups, reviews and timely promotions.
Your brand can win by putting a relentless focus on ensuring that your messaging and your categories align to shopper needs. Here’s how.
1. We know shipping and product availability can be an issue for many. Retailers should proactively message opportunities for click-and-collect if shipping deadlines have passed. Stores should also showcase hot items they know they will have in stock.
2. As we get closer to Christmas, we know people may be forced to go in-store to look for items. Make sure your store hours and policies are front and center both online and in your advertisements, so shoppers feel safe, confident and as comfortable as possible when they visit brick-and-mortar locations.
3. Remember to try and capture holiday money spent outside of gift-giving as well. On average, consumers told us they plan to spend $781 on non-gift items this holiday season, including home decor, entertaining items and clothing. That’s up nearly $300 from 2019. Why? The desire to invest in creating a joyful environment has never meant more to people.
With a sound strategy, an empathetic focus on your customers and a dedication to being part of the joy we’re all craving, your brand can finish a tough year on a high.
Lauren Cooley is senior VP of Retail and Brand Solutions for RetailMeNot.