2020 has been anything but normal and we will continue to brace ourselves for what’s ahead in Q4. In this three-part series, we will look at how COVID-19 will affect the overall holiday retail landscape, how earlier pandemic related supply chain issues will play a role in how consumers shop, and how macro conditions will influence celebrations and gift-giving. We’ll discuss the emerging trends and ways that media buyers can prepare for the impending holiday season.

We can call it now. Cyber Week is canceled. Let’s just call it what it is. Cyber Quarter or CQ. Get ready for a prolonged holiday shopping season.
 

With consumers starting earlier and retailers shutting down on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, we may see some weakness in cyber week sales and a much different distribution of key holiday sales dates.

 

1. Expect empty parking lots on Thanksgiving and Black Friday
Goodbye Thanksgiving Day in-store mayhem. So long infuriating Black Friday traffic. To ward off unsafe crowds, major retailers like Walmart, Target, and Best Buy have already announced that they will close for in-store shopping on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. This year, consumers will have to stay home with their families in lieu of fighting for rock bottom prices on televisions and air fryers.

2. Find and uncover holiday audiences
Cyber Week 2019 saw record-breaking sales with Cyber Monday breaking a historical $9.4 billion in sales. With consumers starting earlier and retailers shutting down on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, we may see some weakness in cyber week sales and a much different distribution of key holiday sales dates.

Many companies have already announced that they will push major deals well before Thanksgiving. Traditionally,  Macy’s kicks off the holiday season with their popular Thanksgiving day parade, but in 2020 the parade will be a televised event and they’re starting the holiday season much earlier.

3. Unprecedented eCommerce growth
According to eMarketer, 2019 brick and mortar holiday sales accounted for $869.40 billion of the $1 trillion holiday season. Just how much of a bump will eCommerce see from the lack of in-store traffic? Most likely, the scales flip with eCommerce taking the lion’s share of sales since consumers are still hesitant to resume in-store visits in many regions in the US.

Takeaways:

Attention reigns supreme. Your campaigns will have a triple threat this holiday season: competitive offers, pandemic news, and the election will all be competing for consumer attention. Get your promotions out early and make sure your campaigns make an impact on the right prospects. Don’t waste your creative on crappy ad placements and stale data.
Check out: Time-In-View Drive Online Tech Sales

Be nimble. No one has a crystal ball. The big wild card will certainly be how many shoppers will venture inside stores but other factors such as surges in COVID-19 cases could influence things like gatherings, retail staffing, and emerging retail trends. Programmatic ads will be key this year since they’re budget-friendly and easy to adapt and adjust.
See:
COVID-19 Holiday Guide

Gift guides and information overload. Most shoppers rely on in-store shopping for gift ideas and impulse buys. Everyone from publishers to retailers should get on top of creating quarantine friendly gift guides and product reviews. Communication will also be key for shoppers since aside from deals, they’ll want to know more about convenience and safety precautions.

Stay tuned for part two in our Cyber Week is Canceled series. Next, we’ll discuss how savvy consumers will shop early in anticipation of product shortages. Make sure to follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn to learn more.

By: Lisa Mollura | VP of Marketing at 33Across