3 Things to Know About the Holiday Shopping Season

3 Things to Know About the Holiday Shopping Season

Written by: Stephanie Bariatti, SMB Media Marketing Consultant 


Though we’ve yet to celebrate Thanksgiving, I think it’s fair to say that the holiday shopping season is already in full swing.  Retailers were stocking their shelves with holiday items even before Halloween was over.  


Traditionally, the timeframe before Thanksgiving and Christmas is thought of as the “holiday season.”  With Thanksgiving falling late on November 28th this year, it means that this holiday season will be decidedly shorter than last year when we had nearly one extra week.  However, experts are sill predicting very strong spending overall, with projections reaching $1 trillion for the first time ever.  Ecommerce spending is expected to rise 13.2% to $135.35 billion


So what major trends can we expect to see from retailers as we head into the final weeks of 2019?


BOPUS/Click and Collect will be huge.  More and more shoppers are becoming big fans of BOPUS (Buy Online Pick Up in Store).  They cite several reasons for choosing this option, one of which is the need for the item immediately.  This should especially come into play for holiday shopping, considering the shortened season.  Retailers should also keep in mind that shoppers do respond to promotions to try click and collect, so offering this type of discount throughout the holiday season may drive more sales.  Also, many consumers are concerned about the prevalence of “porch pirates,” so they feel that picking up their own orders is a more secure option.  Big box stores like Walmart, Target and Best Buy stand poised to heavily benefit from this trend, since they already have advanced click and collect operations. 


However, the most popular reason for selecting click and collect is to avoid paying for shipping, which brings us to our next point.


·    Free shipping is a must.  It used to be that free shipping was only offered as an incentive on peak days like Cyber Monday and Black Friday.  But now, free shipping is expected always.  Andrew Lipsman, principal analyst at eMarketer, says, “If [shoppers] don’t see it offered at checkout, they’ll abandon their cart and turn to a competitor.”  It’s so important that Etsy has rolled out its first-ever holiday TV campaign promoting their launch of free shipping.  Consumers have also gotten somewhat spoiled by the speedy one and two day shipping options offered by Amazon, Target and Walmart, which smaller retailers may have a hard time keeping up with.  However, they should realize that shoppers might be willing to wait a few extra days for the right price and free shipping.



·    Sustainability is a new factor.  Shoppers are becoming more mindful of who they do business with.  Coleman Parkes Research, on behalf of Accenture, conducted an online survey of 1,500 consumers in 17 cities and found that 34% of respondents said they were unaware of the negative environmental impact faster shipping causes.  But, 50% said they'd be willing to try greener delivery options this holiday season, such as a slower shipping option or in-store pickup, jiving with what we mentioned previously. In addition, a January 2019 survey from Hotwire showed that 47% of internet users worldwide said they had switched to a different product or service because a company violated their personal values. Protecting the environment topped the list of reasons consumers switched, and 5% cited concerns about climate change.  This shift in thinking is especially prominent among the Gen Z cohort.  Though they still lack a lot of spending power, they greatly influence purchasing decisions in the household, so brands should not lose focus of this fact.

Stephanie Bariatti works as a Consultant and Project Manager for SMB Media Consulting.  She has had extensive experience with many facets of advertising and media, having worked for and with creative agencies, production companies and research departments.  She lives in New York with her wonderful husband, three lovable little boys, and a snuggly Golden Retriever.