Changing behaviours as Christmas shoppers contend with the pandemic

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Periscope® by McKinsey has released data revealing how the 2020 holiday shopping season will be like no other, with Christmas shoppers adjusting their holiday rituals. The 2020 Holiday Season: Navigating shopper behaviors in the pandemic reveals six trends sellers need to adjust to, following the unprecedented changes in consumer shopping behaviour and the re-introduction of COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions.

The Trends:

  • While overall holiday spending falls, shoppers eye blockbuster day deals

    Consumers across the globe are planning to reduce holiday spending however, three-quarters of all holiday shoppers surveyed are also planning to take advantage of at least one of the season’s deal events and most will spend the same as or more than they did last year. Below are the top days consumers are planning to take part in.

    • Black Friday (55 percent)
    • Amazon Prime Day (43 percent)
    • Cyber Monday (39 percent)
    • Pre-Christmas sales (38 percent)
    • Singles Day (26 percent).
  • An early start to avoid disappointment

    Consumers are starting their holiday shopping early this year to avoid disappointment from out of stock items and delivery delays. Almost half of the respondents said they intended to begin shopping earlier, with holiday shoppers in the United Kingdom most likely to get a head start and those in France least likely.

  • Black Friday events need to be sensitive to shopper anxiety

    Black Friday is expected to be the most popular deal day in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany in 2020, with 60 percent of holiday shoppers in these countries saying they plan to participate this year, up from 50 percent last year.

    Christmas shoppers are anxious and stressed this year and will likely be shopping online more. Delivering a great experience, stock availability, and deals that offer great value for money are all hugely important to reduce their stress.

  • Brand loyalty remains vulnerable

    More consumers are shopping with new retailers and buying less expensive brands of a product this year. Brands need to work on understanding what their customers want and target them with appealing, relevant gift ideas. Consumers have indicated that personalization and social media engagement play a key role in their purchases.

  • Digital peaks, but catalog browsing not out

    Christmas shoppers are expecting to flock to online stores and places that offer curbside pickup. Digital shopping behaviors are likely to pick up as more countries return to lockdown.

    Digital channels have become the go-to for conducting research and getting new ideas for holiday shopping. France seems to still appreciate looking through catalogs, fliers, and newspapers, and in China social media was a huge influence for research.

  • Health and safety is top of mind

    This year, 45 percent (Germany: 49 percent, France: 47 percent, the United States: 43 percent, the United Kingdom: 41 percent, and China: 27 percent) of respondents planned to browse in stores, a sharp drop from last year’s 65 percent. Of course, intent doesn’t always translate into reality during a pandemic but it looks like online shopping is a clear priority for consumers this year.


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