Wrap Up the Holiday Shopping Season – PRS IN VIVO – A BVA GROUP COMPANY

Wrap Up the Holiday Shopping Season

No Blue Christmas - Omnichannel Saves The Day!

Back in November, I received a promotional email from a retailer informing me about Black Friday WEEK!

That’s 2020 for you!  Since when did a shopping “day” turn into a week? Yet another thing we take for granted turned upside down.

To go back to the “Before Times”, Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, used to mark the day in which brick and mortar retailers created sales and other enticements to get shoppers into stores, kicking off the start of the holiday buying season.

Then came Cyber Monday, when online retailers created all kinds of offers prompting shoppers to buy online to take advantage of great holiday deals.

Then, not to be outdone and to insure heavy instore traffic, many physical retailers opened stores early, with midnight line ups and even buying stampedes commencing on Thanksgiving itself.

Then came the pandemic.

Like many shopper behaviors, it is likely that COVID-19 just accelerated trends that were happening in terms of the blurring of lines in the omnichannel path-to-purchase.  More and more consumers have now adopted some form of online shopping, be it for weekly groceries or now, for the purchase of the Sony PS5 that is the only thing on your kids’ holiday list.

And as health guidelines dictated that physical stores limit the number of shoppers at any given time, and many states issued recommendations to limit holiday travel and unnecessary shopping at all, consumers turned to online habits that were already familiar.  Thus, Black Friday morphed, and Cyber Monday seems to have become Cyber Whenever.  With many consumers’ incomes challenged, saving money is more important than ever, so bargains, and the need to stay safe, are driving sales online.

The Post-Mortems on Black Friday started rolling in even before Cyber Monday got going.

  • 50% drop in in-store shopping
  • 22% jump in online Black Friday spending as an alternative to in-store
  • 52% increase on curbside or in-store “click and collect” services over last year.

By all accounts, Black Friday has been termed a bust for in-store shopping ... but is it really a bust for retail overall? Actually, it appears not.

According to Forbes, the 2020 overall retail figures for the selling window including Black Friday (whether you count it as a day or a week!) and Cyber Monday hit records, topping the $100 billion threshold, a milestone usually not reached until mid-December.

Additionally, Forbes quotes industry experts predicting that sales are expected to stay strong until Christmas, with curbside pick-up becoming more popular as shoppers attempt to stay safer, avoiding crowds in stores and potential shipping delays.

Interceptions of consumers on the hunt for bargains have popped up everywhere from e-mail to clever videos on YouTube to shopping ads on Instagram.  Shopping via mobile is surging. According to Adobe Analytics, it was predicted that consumers will do 42% of their shopping from smartphones this holiday season.

While brick and mortar retail reported in-store traffic and sales decrease by as much as 42% over the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend, online sales were booming.  Even Small Business Saturday got clever with many retailers offering private shopping by appointment and online ordering. And in case you thought that the Black Friday shift to online didn’t apply to grocery, CNBC reported statistics from Adobe Digital Analytics that documented whopping online Black Friday grocery sales which surged 397% compared with October daily averages with sales of personal care products skyrocketing 556% and online spending on pet products rising 254%.

RetailWire quoted Adobe’s senior digital insights manager Vivek Pandya, in an interview with CNN Business, “What we’re seeing this year is $1 out of every $4 this season is being spent online. And that’s a marked increase from last year when it was about $1 out of every $5.”

Holiday shopping is turning out not to be worse - just very, very different.

Throw DTC (direct-to-consumer) into the mix and all these changes will tax capabilities previously not encountered by brands and their retailer partners.  Undoubtedly, the logistics of delivery, any online ordering, shipping delays and processing returns, add ways to potentially delight as well as irritate consumers as they travel along this new shopper journey.

How and where to influence shopper choice will be the subject of much analysis of what went right, and what went wrong in Omnichannel Holiday Shopping 2020! We look forward to bringing you our thoughts in the New Year, on how brands and retailers can apply these lessons learned and a behavioral framework to win at both digital and physical retail and drive shopper growth all year long.

And remember how terrible it was in March to find everyone was out of toilet paper?  As if it couldn’t get worse!  By the time many consumers started searching for that coveted Sony PS5, whether in e-commerce or physical retail, on November 20th Sony announced they were SOLD OUT!

Really 2020?  We can’t wait to ring in the New Year!

Nicole Alfano is the Senior Product Manager of PRS IN VIVO’s OmniPath™ team, leading project execution and providing client consultancy as well as thought leadership on omnichannel shopper journeys. She has been with PRS IN VIVO for over 10 years, originally with the Insights team, gaining experience across numerous clients and categories, and also the Operations team, given her passion for organization and efficiency. Nicole is based in New Jersey, where she lives with her husband, 2 daughters, and pup.