How will holiday shopping be different this year

This is How 2020 Holiday Shopping Will Be Different

Every Friday, we answer a common question about fulfillment, shipping, or business. This week’s question comes from a reply to one of our weekly emails. Today we will answer the following question: “how will holiday shopping be different this year?”

Holiday shopping will be heavily skewed toward eCommerce

As you can imagine, many shoppers are uncomfortable with the idea of going into packed stores for Black Friday shopping like in prior years. We know that the coronavirus is transmitted by people being in close contact, so a lot of sales that would be in-person are now moving online.

Since we are in completely uncharted waters, we do not know how specifically this will play out. Retail sales, in general, are expected to be down. Good luck trying to find a specific projection on how much less will come in, though!

What we do know is that somewhere around 25 to 30% of sales will be online this year. That’s up from last year’s 14%. This is a mind-bogglingly huge shift to eCommerce in a short period of time.

Some retailers are trying to move the holiday season up

Retailers are expecting the holiday season to be an odd one. As an effort to both manage intense shipping demand and to generate more revenue, many stores are spreading out the holidays.

For example, more than two dozen major retailers plan on having sales on October 10, or Single’s Day. Other stores are moving Black Friday way up – as early as October and providing options like curbside and contactless in-store pickup to promote social distancing.

It makes sense, too. That way you can both avoid crowds and avoid hiring tons of temporary staff to ship out items on exceptionally busy eCommerce-heavy holidays.

Postal carriers are expecting the unexpected

If you’ve looked at US Postal Service news lately, you know that it has encountered a ton of delays lately. This doesn’t happen in isolation either. Demand for shipping is at an all-time high and when the USPS isn’t able to meet demand, FedEx, UPS, and others have to fill that service gap.

Between the coronavirus, Hurricane Laura, the wildfires in the Western US, and other strange events, the postal system will continue to be strained for a while. We have no idea what exactly that means for the holiday season, but UPS and FedEx are both hiring massive numbers of people to prepare.

Final Thoughts

The holiday season promises to be a very different one for businesses than we’re used to. Ecommerce will be at an all-time high while brick-and-mortar sales suffer. Holidays will be spread out over a long period of time. The postal system will be under immense pressure.

Yet the holidays must go on. We all need something worth celebrating and rituals to celebrate. Gift-giving happens to be the way we, as a culture, do that!

It’s said that where there’s a will, there’s a way. A lot of people are willing the holidays into existence, and the business world is continuing to find new ways to make it happen.

Shoppers are expected to skew heavily toward eCommerce, retailers are simply moving the holiday season up, and the postal carriers are expecting the unexpected. May the odds be ever in your favor, as this is the Hunger Games.

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