The COVID-19 pandemic has had sweeping effects on retail sales over the past few months. While reopening policies are still being determined on a case-by-case basis, businesses need to start looking toward the holiday season to plan for their biggest sales period.
Setting up discounts and creating marketing materials requires advance planning, but what is the best way to approach a holiday season when so much is in doubt? eCommerce may be less impacted than physical retail, but the industry can’t hope for retail sales to seamlessly transfer to digital without a strong understanding of the situation.
Predicting a Lack of Appeal in Retail
As the reopening process continues, retail stores are likely to be open for business by late fall. However, they will require the use of masks and redesign store layouts to reduce crowding and close physical contact, which will dampen consumers’ enthusiasm for shopping. Especially during the holiday season, retail stores rely on loss-leaders and special offers to get customers in the door, but a less pleasant store experience means that shoppers will make their trips shorter and buy fewer additional items.
Retail stores are conscious of these problems and are working to recover from the past few months. With recent reopenings, retail sales jumped 18.2% in May and 7.5% in June according to the U.S. Commerce Department, better than previously expected. They may return to stable numbers as buyers grow more comfortable going out again, but the complications of holiday shopping, plus closures of stores impacted by the pandemic, still pose obstacles to a strong season for physical purchases.
Potential For Holiday eCommerce
eCommerce has already steadily chipped away at retail holiday sales over the past years. In 2019 it made up 14.6% of total holiday season retail and rose 18.8% from the 2018 period, according to a report from Mastercard. With the pandemic making physical sales more unsafe and inconvenient, there is good reason to predict an increase in eCommerce sales. On top of this, customers’ increased exposure to eCommerce sites and mobile apps will make it easier to market holiday deals and discounts to them.
Facing Economic Uncertainty
The biggest fear facing eCommerce sales this fall and into the holiday season is the overall state of the economy. Many businesses were forced to close and millions lost their jobs from March onward, making budgets tighter and discouraging shoppers from making expensive purchases. If the economy does not recover quickly, sales may be suppressed for the rest of the year.
However, since a major factor in retail sales decreasing was lack of access to stores, it may not be a true indicator of consumers being unwilling to spend on eCommerce during the holiday season.
Read also :- Tips for Best Holiday Marketing
Focus on New Priorities for Optimal Sales
As e-retailers prepare for Christmas and holiday sales, they should consider what products are likely to draw the most attention in the new reality of the pandemic. People spending more time at home have invested in home improvement, pool, and garden purchases, suggesting that holiday decoration sales could remain stable and home goods could have strong gift sales. The National Retail Federation predicted a significant increase in back-to-school sales including computers and electronics for distance learning, which could be another area of focus for holiday sales.
Adjustments to Messaging
In the current pandemic and economic conditions, companies are taking care to find the right tone for their messaging to consumers. Messaging that shows how their brands support communities in a difficult time is more appealing than persistent calls to buy. Displaying consideration for the situation that consumers are in and promoting deals focused on solving their current problems can be an effective way of approaching holiday sales.
While it’s still unclear whether sales will rebound by Thanksgiving, eCommerce businesses have many indicators they can monitor, including the performance of July 4th and back-to-school sales periods. eCommerce websites and mobile apps can develop the audiences they have attracted in recent months to create targeted holiday sales that meet their needs.