After months of uncertainty and ongoing changes in consumer behavior, retailers and brands are bracing themselves for a holiday season that promises to look different than any other.
With the goal of preparing brands and retailers for what will come this holiday shopping season, 5W Public Relations conducted a survey of 2,000 respondents in the U.S. with the goal of understanding the current state of the consumer mind-set.
“This is going to be a game-changing holiday season with lasting impact,” said Dara A. Busch, president of consumer practice at 5W Public Relations. “Data shows consumers are still going to shop, but retailers will be competing for that business more than ever. We will see consumers shopping both in-store and online but in a different way, with never-before-seen protocols and a new mind-set. The pandemic has led many consumers to reevaluate their priorities, which will vary widely amongst shoppers. [And] many consumers will likely have new expectations in terms of in-store safety protocols, product availability and convenience, and how brands plan to ‘give back’ this holiday season.”
According to Busch, the biggest change this holiday season will come from major retailers themselves with the decision not to open doors on Black Friday.
“While the true origin of Black Friday is widely conflicting, a common adoption in the retail world is that this inaugural holiday shopping day brings their accounting sheets from red to black,” Busch said. “Despite how shocking this major change may sound it is the right decision because it shows they value customer and employee safety more than sales. I think we are going to see that sentiment play out across all aspects of this year’s holiday shopping season — from new in-store shopping protocols to marketing messaging.”
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While the company’s survey found that 53 percent of consumers will be spending the same amount of money on holiday gifts from last year, Busch said we will likely see retailers needing to compete like never before. The survey also revealed that 29 percent of consumers plan on spending less this year with only 18 percent saying they planned to spend more.
“The current climate encourages retailers to get creative when it comes to engaging consumers,” Busch said. “Months of store closures have forced retail brands to think big and develop targeted new marketing campaigns to bring in business.”
At the same time, a larger percentage of consumers indicated they plan to shop both online and in-store with 54 percent saying they rely on in-store visits to find gift inspiration.
“Since 54 percent [of consumers] plan to visit brick-and-mortar stores for shopping inspiration the hope is those small businesses without e-commerce will still see increased holiday revenue,” Busch said. “We will see retailers getting more creative in terms of their marketing messaging to drive online sales in addition to brick-and-mortar, as 61 percent of consumers plan to shop in both places, and 18 percent plan to shop exclusively online. We may also see an increase in consumer conveniences for online shopping, such as longer return policies and free shipping, similar to what we saw when many brick-and-mortar stores were closed for social distancing.”
The company’s survey found the top category for gifts consumers planned to purchase this year to be clothing and fashion at 47 percent, followed by 38 percent buying beauty and personal care, and 34 percent planning to purchase electronics and technology.
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