This holiday season, the universal fabric of our reality shifted. So, it makes sense that the holiday shopping experience will have changed with it.

Let’s dive into what we have seen thus far this holiday shopping season. Plus, a sneak peek at our Holidays Unwrapped guide with a few pointers to take you into the New Year.

2020 Shopping Season by the Numbers

  • Americans spent $9 billion on Black Friday. That’s a record for Black Friday—and it’s the second biggest U.S. shopping day ever (trailing just behind last year’s Cyber Monday)
  • Americans spent $5.1 billion on Thanksgiving—another new record
  • The average discount on Black Friday was 26%
  • Other highlights from the Thanksgiving week:
    • Tuesday 11/24: 72% YoY Growth
    • Wednesday 11/25: 48% YoY Growth
    • Thursday 11/26 (Thanksgiving): 21.5% YoY Growth
    • Black Friday 11/27: 21.6% YoY Growth
  • Adobe found that eCommerce spending reached a record $10.8 billion on Cyber Monday
  • On Black Friday, 40% of purchases were on mobile, a 23% increase YoY
  • Online sales grew slower than expected (20.6% YoY) over Cyber 5. But this year still set records!
  • Online-only shoppers grew 44% YoY during Cyber 5
  • An Adobe study concluded that Small Business Saturday (11/28) was the fastest-growing Cyber 5 day
    • Resources: Adweek, Adobe, Digital Commerce 360 Dec 2020 Report and eMarketer

What We’ve Learned

  • Curbside Pick-up is a Necessity
    • On Black Friday, curbside pick-up increased 52% since last year
    • Retailers that offered curbside services for Thanksgiving sales saw 31% higher conversion rate of traffic to their sites
    • Fulfillment and operation improvements will last long after the pandemic ebbs
  • Waiting until the last minute for delivery
    • Analysts with Adobe anticipate shipping prices to increase by up to 14.6% in these final online shopping days
  • Provide Online Gifting Options
    • Fewer than 20% of shoppers planned to shop in stores on Black Friday
    • Offer gift wrapping and personal notes as people are less likely to be gifting in person

Communication is Key

  • Provide clear expectations and communication around expected shipping times and delays (in real-time through SMS or email notification
  • Communicate store policies
  • Fully explain any safety measures in-store (masks required, no more than X customers in the store at a time, practice social distancing)
  • List safety precautions being taken in-store as all as somewhere on your website (warehouse cleaning, employee screening)
  • Get the kinks worked out in your click-to-curb delivery and buy online, pick-up in-store procedures

How people spend their time, how they shop and where money is being spent has been significantly altered. Your strategy this holiday season and moving forward needs to reflect these shifts.

Brands that haven’t, don’t or won’t address today’s sociopolitical events have felt the backlash. Do not be one of those brands. Many consumers expect and demand that brands take a stand on social issues. If brands aren’t using their platform to speak out and work towards affecting positive change, many consumers will purchase elsewhere.

A Mindshare survey found that over two-thirds of American adults believe that brands need to play a crucial role when it comes to speaking out against social injustice and racial inequality. But sentiments need to come from the heart and follow through with action because six out of 10 US adults saw brands that spoke out as being opportunistic.

“Facing a lack of confidence in government and traditional institutions, these consumers now expect the private sector to confront today’s pressing crises and advocate for change. Not only are consumers increasingly loyal to brands that support causes they care about, but they’re less likely to buy from those that don’t.”

Tone of Message and Giveback Mentality

With the “support local” and “support essential worker” theme of 2020, can you help give back to those who have been on the front line this year? Or donate to organizations that support local restaurants, bars and charities?

The loyalist shopping tendencies of younger generations like Millennials and Gen Z are earned, not programmed. It isn’t enough to have a good product—brands must be authentic.

Many consumers were honed-in on-brand messaging at this time—it is in the best interest of the advertiser to alter any creative or messaging that could be viewed as insensitive.

Carefully assess

  • Tone and authenticity of message
  • Creative used (stay away from crowds of people in an ad and pre-pandemic interactions)
  • Context of the copy

Continually reassess campaigns, placements and creative. What was set up two weeks ago may not be relevant today and small creative tweaks can have a huge impact. What we have gleaned thus far from holiday shopping trends will be carried with us much into 2021.

Turn challenges into opportunities by testing new ways to connect with your customers. If this year has taught us anything, it is that humans are resilient, innovative and imaginative.