The holiday shopping season is usually a busy one for retailers, restaurants and other traders. For 2020 the average shopper plans to spend $ 998 on vacation purchases, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).However, this year’s holiday shopping season probably won’t look like those of the past. The coronavirus pandemic is reshaping the way people shop and spend for the holiday season in more than one way.
- The average American plans to spend just under $ 1,000 on the holidays this year.
- Online shopping is expected to take precedence over in-store shopping as consumers observe measures of social isolation.
- Black Friday remains the most popular day for holiday shopping, followed by Amazon Prime Day and Cyber Monday.
- Small Business Saturday may be the highlight of this year’s holiday shopping season, as consumers try to help small businesses affected by COVID-19.
How Holiday Spending Adds
Consumers are still planning to spend money over the holidays this year, despite financial obstacles associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. A PwC survey found that nearly 40% of consumers expect to spend the same amount as they did last year, while 11% actually plan to spend more.Of the nearly $ 1,000 on average they plan to spend, according to the NRF, the majority of that is budgeted toward buying gifts.
Gift card purchases are also expected to get a boost this year. According to the NRF, consumers are expected to spend $ 27.5 billion on buying gift cards, either for themselves or to give to others over the holidays.
On the other hand, travel spending may slow down over the holiday season as the government and health agencies warn people to avoid concentrations. One in five holiday shoppers who usually travel through November and December said they plan to stay home this year. And more than half, 53%, said they were more likely to use the money they’d spent on travel to pay for gifts, decorations and buying other holidays.
If you are booking holiday travel, check your airline and hotel cancellation policies in case your plans are marred by a COVID-19 pandemic.
Online Shopping is expected to increase
In terms of the biggest trends for holiday shopping this year, the focus is less on buying “hot” items and more on maintaining health and safety while shopping.
In a DealAid.org survey, 90% of consumers said they had spent more time shopping online since the COVID-19 pandemic began. While 87% of consumers shopped for a holiday last year, only 60% of consumers say they intend to do so this year.
That’s a 27% decline, but DealAid.org also found that, when asked directly, 31% of interviewees said they expect to avoid in-store shopping in 2020 compared to 2019. On average, consumers plan to spend nearly $ 100 more online shopping in 2020. Overall, 97% of consumers surveyed by DealAid.org said they would do at least some of their holiday shopping on- line.
Retail Dive reported that, according to Adobe Analytics, online sales reached $ 9 billion on Black Friday 2020, 21.6% ahead of 2019. Salesforce tracked them at growth of 12.8 billion and 23%.
Raising and ordering curbside online with shoplifting is also something that holiday shoppers are interested in this year. In the PwC survey, 55% of millennials said they would use curbside pickup for their holiday purchases, while 52% said they plan to order items online and pick them up in the store.Unsurprisingly, paving was up 52% over last year, Adobe Analytics reported, with retailers providing it harvesting a 31% rate of traffic conversions to their online websites. The reported sales conversion number was 19%.
If you are shopping online for the holidays, mark December 14 on your calendar. It’s national Free Shipping Day at participating retailers.
Small Business Saturday could be a boost for local businesses
The most popular day to shop, according to a McKinsey & Company survey, is Black Friday, with Amazon Prime Day coming in a close second. Cyber Monday takes the third spot for the most popular holiday shopping day.However, there is another annual holiday shopping event that may be particularly important this year. It’s called Small Business Saturday, and it happens every year on the Saturday between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. American Express created Small Business Saturday in 2010 to highlight small, local businesses. This year it is scheduled for November 28.
Consumers have so far spent more than $ 120 billion on Small Business Saturday, with nearly $ 20 billion of that spent in 2019 alone. Small Business Saturday is taking on a new importance for 2020 as many small business owners struggle with the economic effects of COVID-19.
According to American Express, 62% of small businesses indicated that consumer spending needed to return to pre-COVID-19 levels by the end of 2020 in order for them to stay in business.According to the Associated Press, a survey conducted by Amex found that 88% of consumers say they are committed to spending in small businesses this year to offset some of the financial effects of the pandemic.
Use the Shop Small map located on the American Express website to find small businesses you can support on Small Business Saturday and all year long.
How to Prepare for this year’s Holiday Shopping Season
If you’re planning to spend the holidays, it’s important to consider how the COVID-19 pandemic might affect your shopping plans. First, check your budget to see how much money you can commit to spending this year’s holidays and how much you spent last year. If the pandemic has affected your income, you may not be able to spend as much as you did in previous years. Considering a solid number you can afford to spend can help you avoid accumulating debt to pay for the holiday.
Next, consider your preferred method of shopping. With social isolation guidelines in place, it may be more practical to stick to online shopping for most or all of your holiday needs. If you’re shopping online, keep these tips in mind:
- Compare prices on different websites before buying
- Look for free freight promotions to save money
- Check bargain websites online for promo codes or discounts you could use for purchases
- Check the retailer’s return policy in case you need to send something back
If the item you want to buy does not offer free shipping, choose a curbside or pick up shop if available. That can save you money on shipping and booking fees as little time as possible in stores over the holidays.
Also, consider the timing if you are buying a vacation online. Standard shipment times could be delayed due to the pandemic, so you may need to give yourself a longer window for ordering and receiving items. Alternately, you may need to leave extra space in your vacation budget to cover rush transportation fees if needed, so an item can be delivered on time.
Be prepared for some items to be out of stock or completely unavailable, as supply chain logistics issues could cause shortages.
Finally, consider how you plan to buy a vacation, especially if you shop online. Paying by credit card can offer greater protection against fraud if your card details are stolen by holiday scammers. However, make sure you have a plan for paying off your credit cards after the holidays to avoid getting stuck with high interest debt.