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The Positive Outlook for Holiday Shopping

by Simon Eskow
The holiday shopping season starts on November 23, but predictions are that more people will shop even sooner than that.

Good news for brick-and-mortars. While the bulk of holiday sales always happens in stores at Christmas time, more consumers plan to shop in-store this year than last year. Going by one recent survey, holiday shoppers will start looking for gifts even earlier this year. Despite reservations about crowds, plenty of shoppers still love the in-store experience. All told, retailers can expect solid sales starting before December across all channels. But brick-and-mortar may be a brand-differentiator.

Holiday shopping may start earlier this year

Are you looking forward to the busy holiday shopping season? It’s right around the corner and it’s likely you’ll have everything organized. That includes what you plan to sell, how much you’ll carry, the promotions you’ll offer and the marketing campaigns you’ll launch. The sooner you have everything in place, the better. That’s because this year, it looks like consumers will begin shopping even earlier this year.

Black Friday

Almost half of surveyed consumers will start shopping before November 23. That’s the date for Black Friday this year, the traditional launch of the holiday season. In fact, some expect holiday shopping to begin well before that. However, going by past seasons, US businesses can expect a substantial portion of all holiday sales to occur on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Those two days last year accounted for almost 11% of all holiday sales revenue alone.

In-store experience

Brick-and-mortars may see a significant increase in the number of customers in their stores. Going by the survey referenced above, 88% expect to shop in stores. That’s a 6 percent bump from the same survey in 2017. Overall, they’ll likely split their time between online and in-store channels. But holiday shopping isn’t just about checking off a gift list. Many consumers want the experience that only physical retail can supply. So shoppers won’t just be looking for sales and inspiration for gift ideas. They’ll want the festive experience of decorations, window displays and holiday ambiance.

eCommerce enhanceR

While an inspirational shopping experience can draw customers to the store, eCommerce can improve a retailer’s competitiveness. Retailers that showed in-store stock on their websites gain increase their foot-traffic. That why, according to another study, the number of retailers doing that increased by 35% in 2016. Clearly, for multichannel retailers, eCommerce has to work in concert with brick-and-mortar to realize the benefits of both channels.