Holiday Shopping Statistics 2020 & Predictions for 2021

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Haley Updated: January 25, 2021

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Blink a few times… and 2021 is right here. Smart marketers and retailers have already started making plans to capitalize on the year’s most lucrative shopping season.

If you haven’t started yet (or even if you have), our blog post of holiday shopping statistics 2020 & predictions for 2021 can help with your planning for this year’s holidays.

To ensure your brand is ready for what’s to come in the holiday shopping season of 2021, it is a good idea to look back at the 2020 statistics. Not only will you see steady increases in online activities, but you will also notice some very telling trends.

That said, the 2021 holiday season might not be as predictable as previous seasons due to the continuous COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, included with this roundup of holiday statistics are some expert predictions for what’s to come later this year.

In this blog post, you’ll find the following:

Holiday shopping statistics 2020

The world population is now about 7.8 billion people, with almost 4.66 billion Internet users, so it’s a golden opportunity for any E-business to maximize their sales at no time. They up their game for the holiday season as they do every year.

Thanks to the rapid development of E-commerce platforms and consumer willingness to purchase online, the 2020 shopping season peaked as one of the best sales seasons in recent years. Researchers also found that E-commerce performance Cyber 5 (the 5-day period from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday) and the number of shoppers represent positive changes when compared to those of 2019.

That bright side will be demonstrated clearly in this section as we’ll provide you data-driven behavioral insights and spending trends, together with 5 lessons from the 2020 holiday shopping season.

Ready to grab all that holiday spending statistics? Here you are.

The numbers

To begin with, we’ll list down outstanding holiday statistics, which surely impress you.

#1 Retail trade group sees holiday sales up 3.6% to 5.2% in 2020, in spite of the Covid-19 pandemic. (CNBC)

#2 $922 was the average amount to be spent on retail categories during the 2020 holiday season. Clothing and gift cards remain top items during this holiday season.

  • Clothing and accessories: $253
  • Gift cards: $242
  • Food and beverage: $200
  • Electronics and accessories: $195
  • Toys and hobbies: $163
  • Home and kitchen: $158
  • Health and wellness: $114
  • Pet: $90 (Deloitte)

Read more: Gift Card Statistics 2020

#3 Multichannel shopping during holidays is more and more becoming the norm. COVID-19-influenced behaviors have driven demand for contactless options, such as BOPIS (Buy online, pickup in-store) or curbside pickup.

  • Standard delivery: 73%
  • Same-day or next-day delivery directly by the retailer: 43%
  • Buy online, pick-up store (BOPIS): 35%
  • Curbside pickup: 27%
  • Batching or combining orders of shipping: 20% (Deloitte)

#4 Black Friday has been known as the biggest shopping day of the year, but as more consumers shop online to enjoy the convenience, Cyber Monday was the king of sales:

  • Thanksgiving: $6.18 billion
  • Black Friday: $10.20 billion
  • Small Business Saturday: $4.76 billion
  • Super Sunday: $5.07 billion
  • Cyber Monday: $12.89 billion (eMarketer)

#5 While shoppers use various devices during the holiday season, E-commerce spending was split unevenly among them:

  • 60.4% desktop sales
  • 34.5% mobile sales
  • 5.1% tablet sales (Statista)
Holiday Shopping Statistics 2020 & Predictions for 2021 (Infographic)
Holiday Shopping Statistics 2020 & Predictions for 2021 (Infographic)

5 lessons learned from the 2020 holiday shopping season

Whether your business saw a lucrative holiday shopping season last year or hope for some significant improvements this year, it’s worth withdrawing valuable lessons. Here are 5 key lessons for you to take away. By understanding these lessons, you can prepare better for 2021 and position yourself for success.

1. Long-term customer connections

In the 2020 holiday shopping season, brands offered consumers special promotions and offers. They used events, pop-up shops, and contests to deepen their relationship with customers.

Nevertheless, in this year’s holiday season, as a business owner, you need to go beyond promotions because they evoke short-term behaviors. You should devise strategies that develop loyal customer relationships. Keep in mind that customers desire enhanced customer experience coupled with outstanding customer service in return for doing business with a company.

2. Multichannel retailing

During the last year, BOPIS and curbside pickup were driven more powerfully by safety - replacing more in-store shoppers. However, standard delivery still makes up the largest proportion.

If you want to reap much from the 2021 holiday season, it’s better to invest in multichannel retailing. You should think of both online and offline channels to communicate and market to your consumers. You should also strive to offer digitally-enhanced offline shopping experiences, such as self-checkout and sending SMS offers to customers’ phones.

Read more: How to Set up SMS Notification for Your Stores

And as more shoppers use their mobile phones for online shopping, you should ensure that your website is mobile-optimized. Studies show that smartphones accounted for 46% when consumers search for holiday shopping in 2020.

3. Loyalty programs

In the previous holiday shopping season, brands started or enhanced their own loyalty programs and with good reason. 24% of shoppers choose a brand because they are members of a loyalty program.

Brands should focus on their loyalty programs in 2020
Brands should focus on their loyalty programs in 2020

Going forward to 2021, companies should revamp their loyalty programs to make their members feel special and appreciated. You can develop unique perks for your members, such as members-only initiatives, shop-early bonuses, and charitable opportunities.

Learn more: How to Build an Effective Loyalty Program?

4. Prospering global opportunity

The growth in E-commerce isn’t limited to the US alone. Some other countries, such as China, are experiencing tremendous growth in E-commerce. Singles’ Day in China alone recorded $74.1 billion in sales. At its peak, the order number per second reached 583,000. During the 24-hour period on November 11, Alibaba’s Tmall (a B2C site in China), offered 16 million products from more than 250,000 brands.

This exponential growth of E-commerce in other countries reveals a global sales opportunity. Regrettably, only around 37% of US firms sell across the border, which shows an untapped opportunity for US retailers to penetrate into new markets and expand their customer base. The secret to cross border selling is understanding your audience and meeting their needs.

5. Holiday data breaches

In the “How Fraud Stole Christmas” report by Terbium Labs, up to 65% of responders believe they are at a higher risk of having their financial information and private data exposed as a result of their holiday shopping.

As customers are already on high fraud alert, assure them that they are safe shopping with you and that their privacy and data are protected. Besides, keep your website and app security top of mind, and find a solution that provides a financial guarantee against fraud on approved orders.

7 key predictions for retail 2021

The retail 2021 is shaping up to be one of the most unusual ones. By the time most of us are vaccinated, we will have been living in a COVID word for more than a year, and well, unfortunately, a return to “normal” may never happen.

Whether you’re selling or shopping in 2021, the only thing that can be expected is the unexpected. The COVID-19 pandemic has upended our daily lives, dramatically shifting consumer behaviors and expectations and forcing brands to quickly adapt to a new and unprecedented retail environment.

Many brands have switched gears to stay afloat, optimizing online shopping, and other safe options for a customer base wary of virus exposure.

Meanwhile, consumer spending is equally divided. Millions of families have been hit hard by the COVID-19 outbreak, but many others have been able to set aside significant sums during the lockdown.

So, what does it all mean when it comes to the 2021 holiday shopping season? The following predictions can help businesses prepare to build cost-effective marketing strategies for the season, and ideally, end 2021 on a positive note.

1. Online shopping experiences will be more important

The 2020 holiday shopping season was set to center around E-commerce for the first time ever.

At the beginning of COVID-19, when non-essential stores closed, and people had to quarantine, online shopping rates exploded.

According to PriceSpider’s finding, E-commerce site traffic each day in April was higher than it was during 2019 Black Friday. Even after physical stores started to reopen, online shopping trends continued, likely due to ongoing concerns about in-store virus exposure.

Not to mention that many major retailers, such as Best Buy, Target, Walmart, Macy’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Kohl’s have already announced that they will be closing their stores on Thanksgiving Day, which traditionally kicks off the Black Friday shopping weekend.

The upward trend of online shopping is expected to continue in 2021.

2. Online gets personal

Online gets personal
Online gets personal

Video calls have already become mainstream in the business world. People see each other, share their screen information. Retailers are also beginning to recognize the value of video chat as a consultation and sales tool.

No matter if a consumer is buying a car, furniture, or upscale clothing, why not offer an option of connecting to a sales associate or product expert whenever it is convenient? This can happen after work, on the weekend, or even late at night.

More than the convenience factor, online consultations make it possible and easy to share product videos, review technical specs, walk users through features and functions in a demo, as well as boost trust via face-to-face interaction. Retailers are beginning to realize that they can work for their products and services.

3. Mobile will be in the retail spotlight

As a matter of fact, mobile has established itself as a crucial component of any successful marketing strategy, and time in the lockdown has only served to amplify its use and influence.

During the COVID-19, mobile usage has increased an average of one hour per day worldwide, while mobile ad engagement has grown by 15%. This means retailers should be strategically shifting ad spend from desktop to mobile wherever it makes sense (including social ads, which are mostly viewed on mobile screens).

Read more: Get Your Online and Mobile Platforms Ready for Holiday Shopping Seasons

4. It’s back to basic for gifts

It’s back to basic for gifts
It’s back to basic for gifts

After years of buying “experience” gifts like concerts, entertainment, and travel, consumers are believed to return to gift-giving basics. Families are not going to Disney World or even the local theatre this year, so experts forecast they’ll use that money for electronics and toys to be used at home.

5. Curbside pickup will become a key fulfillment channel

Although some retailers have offered curbside pick-up and buy online/ pick-up in store (BOPIS) for years, its popularity recently spiked in response to the pandemic-driven safety concerns of consumers.

By paring the great convenience of online shopping with the immediacy of in-store pick-up, BOPIS has experienced record-breaking 208% over-year-year growth during the pandemic.

With online purchases set to play a dominant role in the 2021 holiday season and the anticipated additional pressure on shipping and delivery services, retailers will need to leverage their brick-and-mortar stores as cost-effective and convenient fulfillment centers, and shopping locations as well.

6. Online spending may lead to back-end problems

A boost in online holiday shopping is great news for E-commerce brands, but the season won’t be free of challenges.

Online spending may lead to back-end problems
Online spending may lead to back-end problems

Experts believe that brands will be used to a surge in visitors during the holiday, but they won’t be used to the traffic levels promised this holiday season. Retailers should test their web and mobile sites to ensure they can handle significantly increased traffic levels.

Furthermore, stores will need a flexible, robust, and responsive supply chain to make sure they have the best possible holiday season. How fast businesses can respond to changes in demand will be the difference between a profitable year-end and “leaving sales on the table because of limited supply.” Therefore, it’s better to have a robust online strategy and the means to deliver incremental inventory late in the season is one critical key to capturing upside sales.

Last but not least, experts believe last-mile delivery will be the secret to success this holiday season. E-commerce companies are recommended to cooperate with smaller last-mile delivery brands and use their physical stores as fulfillment centers, in addition to relying on major players like FedEx and UPS.

7. Recycling may become a BIG business

According to Waste360, more than 95% of the packages shipped to the country’s 200 million online consumers are sent in containerboard. This is expected to increase in the coming years as online sales continue to grow.

Between Jan and Nov of this year alone, American consumers spent around $547 billion online - an increase of about 33% from the same period in 2019.

Recycling is forecast to become a huge business as online retail continues to grow and billions of boxes need delivering. The repercussions of this matter truly haven’t been acknowledged or addressed yet.

The bottom line

That’s it for holiday shopping statistics 2020 & predictions for 2021! We hope you can use the data & 5 lessons from the 2020 holiday shopping season, as well as 7 predictions for 2021, to improve any business plan!

However, it’s essential to remember that E-commerce and shopping behavior is continuously changing. Successful merchants will be those that recognize widespread trends but always remain agile to new innovation, technology, and consumer preferences.

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Haley
Haley
Haley is a content creator at Mageplaza. When not working, she gets hung up on travel adventures, books, and food tasting. As growing up, she wants to read, learn, and experience more and more up-to-date things to adapt herself to this ever-changing world.
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